Denmark Open: Srikanth beats Lin Dan, Saina stuns Yamaguchi

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Defending champion Kidambi Srikanth defeated Lin Dan 18-21, 21-17, 21-16 in the second round of the ongoing Denmark Open in Odense on Thursday. The match lasted 63 minutes. He will next face compatriot Sameer Verma in the quarterfinals.

Earlier in the day, Saina Nehwal had entered the quarterfinals of the Denmark Open after stunning world no. 2 Akane Yamaguchi. Nehwal defeated Yamaguchi 21-15, 21-17 in just 36 minutes in a lopsided contest.

Saina was then joined in the quarters by Verma, who defeated reigning Asian Games Champion Jonatan Chrisite 22-20, 6-21, 23-21 in the last 16. The women's doubles pair of N Sikki Reddy and Ashwini Ponnappa also entered the last eight after defeating the seventh-seeded South Korean pair of Lee So Hee and Shin Seung Chan 18-21, 22-20, 21-18.

This was Srikanth's first meeting with the former world no. 1 Dan after the Rio Olympics, where the Indian had lost in the quarterfinals in what was a close defeat. His only other win against Dan came in the 2014 China Open final, which marked Srikanth's first Superseries win in the circuit.

Yamaguchi has proved to be Saina's nemesis in the past, winning six of their seven previous matches before this tournament. Yamaguchi had won each of her previous six matches against Saina, with four of those wins coming in straight games.

Both Saina and Yamaguchi have won the tournament in the past, with Saina winning in 2012 and Yamaguchi winning in 2016. Saina had lost to Yamaguchi in straight games in the quarterfinals last year.

She will next face former world champion Nozomi Okuahara in the quarterfinals. Okuhara defeated compatriot Saena Kawakami 21-15, 21-14 in the last 16. Saina is one of only two former champions (the other being Ratchanok Intanon) that are still left in the women's singles draw.

Okuhara has only won four of her 10 career meetings against Saina but she has emerged victorious in each of their last three matches, though all those three matches have been marathon encounters.

Saina is the only Indian left in the women's singles draw as PV Sindhu exited the tournament after losing in the first round to USA's Beiwen Zhang.

After struggling with serious injuries post the 2016 Olympics, Saina has had a second wind in 2018, winning gold at the the Commonwealth Games and bronze at the Asian Games. She also made the quarterfinals of the World Championships, where she lost to eventual champion Carolina Marin.

Saina is one of only three Indians and the only woman to win the prestigious tournament. Prakash Padukone and Kidambi Srikanth had won the men's singles title in 1979-80 and 2017 respectively. Saina will fancy her chances of reaching the final this time around too as Okuhara is the only seeded player left in her half of the draw.

This is Sameer's first appearance in the quarterfinals of the Denamark Open. He had previously defeated world no. 2 Shi Yuqi 21-17, 21-18 in the first round.

World no. 23 Sameer had three match points at 20-17 in the the third game but his Indonesian opponent leveled scores at 20-20 before Sameer won two points on the trot to win the match.