Ace Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal faced tough opposition in the quarterfinals of the World Badminton Championship as she suffered a 21-15, 21-15 loss to world number one Li Xuerui of China in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Nehwal had to bow out in the quarterfinal stage of the world event for the fifth consecutive time after losing to Xuerui in straight sets.
Xuerui led 11-8 in the first game going into the break but she soon extended a five-point advantage at 15-10 before wrapping up the game 21-15 in her favour.
The world number one, however, looked eager to close out the match quickly as she went smashing at every half-opportunity and made a lot of unforced errors in the process.
In the second game, Nehwal took the lead at 5-4 and then worked her way up to 9-5 with some clever smashes aimed at Xuerui's body. During the break, Nehwal led 11-8 after dropping the first game.
However, Xuerui upped the pressure on the Indian with some great smashes and cross-court drop shots of her own that left Nehwal looking surprised.
There were some great rallies exchanged throughout the course of the match but Xuerui's unrelenting defense meant Nehwal had to swallow a bitter 21-15, 21-15 loss in the end.
Earlier, China's Xuerui had beaten compatriot Han Li as she strode into the quarterfinals, defeating her 12th-seeded opponent 21-9, 21-17 in just 27 minutes. On the other hand, Nehwal had to work hard to beat 13th seed Sayaka Takahashi of Japan 14-21, 21-18, 21-12 on her way to the quarterfinals.
Some bitter words had also been exchanged between Nehwal and Xuerui ahead of the highly awaited quarterfinal match-up.
Top-ranked Xuerui, one of four Chinese representatives in the women's draw, had responded by saying that let Nehwal beat her first, and added that she still has to face Chinese players whether there's two or three of them.
Among other Indians at the World Championship, 11th-seeded PV Sindhu, who upset world number five Yeon Ju Bae of South Korea 19-21, 22-20, 25-23 will face world number two Shixian Wang of China in the quarterfinals later on Friday. Sindhu won a historic bronze medal in the event last year.