India is now assured of two medals with both Sindhu and Saina reaching last-four stage.
Saina Nehwal returned to where she belongs while paving the way for Indian badminton’s foray into a territory hitherto unexplored, her semifinal entry also raising hopes of a first all-India summit showdown in the World Championships.
The Olympic bronze medallist advanced to the semifinal when she staved off the challenge from local favourite Kristy Gilmour to assure herself of at least a bronze. The 27-year-old Saina, who won a silver medal at the last edition at Jakarta, dug deep into her reservoir to eke out a 21-19 18-21 21-15 win over the world No. 31 Gilmour in a match that lasted an hour and 14 minutes.
She will now face 7th seed Nozomi Okuhara in the semi-finals. The Japanese shuttler stunned the defending champion Carolina Marin of Spain 21-18, 14-21, 21-15.
PV Sindhu also completed a hat-trick of medals at the World Badminton Championship as she stormed into the semi-finals, lifting India’s spirit after Kidambi Srikanth’s quarter-final exit here.
The 22-year-old, who has won a bronze at the 2013 and 2014 editions, disposed off Sun Yu 21-14, 21-9 in 39 minutes at the Emirates Arena.
The world No. 4 Indian will next take on another Chinese – world No. 10 Chen Yufei, who saw off former world champion Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand.
Earlier, Srikanth went down fighting 14-21, 18-21 to world No. 1 SOn Wan Ho of Korea in men’s singles competition.
Srikanth had emerged as India’s best bet at the event after clinching back-to-back titles at Indonesia and Australia and a final finish at the Singapore Open.
The 24-year-old from Guntur had come into the match with twin victories over Son Wan in June at the Indonesia Open Super Series Premier and Australia Open Super Series but it counted for little as the Korean dished out a near-perfect game to outclass the Indian in a 49-minute clash.
Among other top shuttlers, Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen, five-time champion Lin Dan also reached the semi-finals in men’s singles.
Srikanth made a nervy start to the quarter-finals, allowing Son Wan to open up a 6-1 lead early on but the Indian slowly got his bearing as he made it 5-6. His movement improved and his trade mark smashes helped him to make it 8-8.
However, Son Wan managed to move ahead and a return from Srikanth going to net helped the Korean to have the 11-8 advantage at the first break.
The duo looked to outwit each other by changing the angles and pace of their strokes during the rallies. Srikanth reduced the margin to 12-13 but the Korean once again managed to move up to a 15-12 lead with a deceptive back hand return.
Srikanth’s errors helped Son Wan to move to 19-13. The Korean grabbed six game point opportunity and sealed it when the Indian hit the net twice.
After the change of sides, Srikanth struggled to get his length right and his returns missed the baseline twice. The Indian even lost his left shoe during one of the rallies.
Srikanth struggle with his precision and placement of strokes and it helped Son Wan to eventually enter the breather with a handsome seven-point advantage.
After the break, Srikanth played a good rally with patience and it helped him to win the point but he seemed to go back to his power game, which backfired as the Korean kept moving ahead to 13-5.
Srikanth changed gears then and strengthened his defence to reel off seven straight points, making it 12-16 but Son Wan managed to break the streak with a return that found the Indian short at the forecourt.
The Indian missed the line again and also hit the net to allow Son Wan move to 19-14 advantage.