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Denmark Open: Srikanth, Saina make semis

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Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth entered the semi-finals of the Denmark Open with wins over Nozomi Okuhara and Sameer Verma respectively on Friday.

Saina, ranked 10th in the world, recovered after losing the first game to beat World No. 7 Okuhura 17-21, 21-16, 21-12 in a quarterfinal match lasting 58 minutes.

The final point of the match was a long rally which ended with the Japanese finding the net. Saina had earlier lost her previous three meetings to Okuhara, including the most recent one in Korea in September. Saina had also lost to the 2017 world champion during the team event at the Asian Games in August.

With this win, their head-to-head tally now stands at 7-4 in the Indian's favour. Saina next faces World No. 19 Gregoria Mariska Tunjung of Indonesia.

Srikanth, too, had to dig deep against compatriot Verma with little separating the two in an intense men's singles quarterfinal. In the end, World No. 6 Srikanth prevailed over the 23rd-ranked Indian in an marathon match lasting an hour and 18 minutes with the final scoreline reading 22-20, 19-21, 23-21.

The two Indians had not played each prior to the quarterfinal. Verma was leading for the major part of the third and deciding game where he even had a 17-13 lead, before Srikanth scripted a remarkable fightback to scrape through.

Srikanth plays second seed and World No. 1 Kento Momota of Japan in the semifinal, to be held later on Saturday. The formidable Japanese enjoys an 8-3 career record over Srikanth and has not lost to the Indian in their last five meetings.

In the women's doubles, Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy's spirited campaign came to an end with a loss to top seeds Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota in the quarterfinals.