Kuala Lumpur, April 4: World No.1 shuttler Sai Nehwal went down 21-13, 17-21, 20-22 in her women's singles semifil to reigning Olympic champion Li Xuerui at the $500,000 Malaysia Open Superseries Premier here on Saturday.
The Chinese beat the third seeded Indian in a marathon match that lasted an hour and eight minutes with the top seed prevailing at the Putra Stadium.
With the win, World No.3 Xuerui extended her career record to 9-2 against Sai, also ending the Indian challenge at the tourment. Following the loss, Olympic bronze medallist Sai is likely to lose her top rank.
Xuerui will take on reigning World Champion Caroli Marin in the fil, who beat second seeded Chinese Shixian Wang 21-17, 24-22 in the other semi-fil. Going into the fil on Sunday, Xuerui leads 3-1 in the head-to-head record against Spaniard Caroli.
The newly crowned World No.1 started in perfect fashion to clinch the first game in domiting style. Though the Chinese matched Sai's shots till 6-all, the Hyderabadi stamped her authority to take flight and quickly seal the first game.
The second game was a neck-and-neck fight till 18-17, in favour of Xuerui, who held her nerve to win the last three points and push the match into the decider. The third game was an even more hotly contested one. Sai held the advantage at 12-17 but the former World No.1 won five straight points to close the gap. Thereon, both shuttlers did not allow the other more than a point's difference.
But at 20-all, the most crucial point of the match, Xuerui showed the killer attitude to smash the next two points and enter the fil.
In the men's singles competition, Chi's five-time World champion Lin Dan set up a summit clash with compatriot and World No.1 Chen Long.
While two-time Olympic champion Dan quelled a strong challenge from World No.2 Jan O Jorgensen before prevailing 14-21, 21-19, 21-17 in an hour and 19 minutes, reigning World champion Long disposed of compatriot Wang Zhengming 21-18, 21-16 in just 36 minutes.
Ahead of the fil, Dan, 31, has a 7-1 lead in career meetings over the 26-year-old Long.IANS