Beijing: Defending champion Saina Nehwal on Sunday went down to Li Xuerui in straight games in Fuzhou, losing the women’s singles summit clash of the China Open Superseries Premier.
Sixth seed Xuerui needed only 39 minutes to beat Saina 21-12, 21-15 at the Haixia Olympic Sports Centre.
Xuerui took home $52,500 for her title win while Saina, whose last victory against Xuerui came in 2012, was rewarded $26,600.
Xuerui was so dominant on the day that she won 42 of the 69 points played in the match. She was far better when it came to the longer rallies, outwitting the Hyderabadi to clinch easy points.
Though she served up some unforced errors at the start of the match to give Saina a 4-1 lead, the 24-year-old Chinese soon found her rhythm to bag six straight points and take a 7-4 lead.
She kept building on it, making her opponent run all over the court to retrieve the shuttle. Most times, the bird from Saina’s racquet either found the net or went way beyond the line.
The 2014 Asian Games silver medallist’s agile picks were too hard for the Indian to retrieve.
Xuerui made Saina run helter-skelter on the court, and another error from her handed the Chinese the first game on the third gamepoint.
Like the first game, Saina raced away to a 4-0 lead. This time though, with the help of some good cross-court deception and a strong backhand, she took a healthy lead of 12-6.
But suddenly the tables turned as Saina lost 15 of the next 18 points played. Xuerui upped the ante, something that Saina could not match, and won seven consecutive points to go 13-12 up.
And then from 15-all, the local girl, backed by a vociferous home crowd, earned six straight points to pocket the match and take home the title.