Ace Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal continued her dream run and reached the quarter-finals of the Malaysian Open Grand Prix Gold badminton tournament after a gruelling victory over Intanon Ratchanok of Thailand in Johor Bahru, Malaysia, on Thursday.
The second seeded Indian lost the first game but staged spirited fightback to outlast the Indonesian 18-21, 21-12, 21-18 in a 46-minute clash.
She will meet Chinese qualifier Xin Wang on Friday. Xin thumped sixth seed Japanese Ai Goto 21-14, 21-14 in another pre-quarter-final.
Intanon was better at the net and scored through smashes as she took the first game. But the No 8-ranked Indian switched to aggressive mode in the next game and raced to a 9-6 lead before pocketing it comfortably.
The decider turned out to be a perfect pot-boiler as fortunes fluctuated. Saina raced to 10-5 but the Thai soon reeled off four straight points to claw back and reduce the gap to 10-9. However, the Indian stayed cool as the lead kept changing hands before breaking away at 18 to seal the issue.
However, it was curtains for Arvind Bhat and Ajay Jayaram in the men's singles.
Ninth seed Arvind was thrashed by Chinese Long Chen 5-21, 11-21 in just 27 minutes, while Ajay went down to Yun Hu of Hong Kong 15-21, 14-21 in less than 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, India's mixed doubles pair of V Diju and Jwala Gutta brushed aside the Malaysian duo of Wee tat Tan and Hui Ern Ng, winning 21-12, 21-12 to move into the quarter-finals where they meet the Indonesian pair of Hendra Aprida Gunawan and Vita Marissa on Friday.
The men's doubles pair of Rupesh Kumar and Sanave Thomas won their first round match against the sixth seeded Chinese pair of Zhiben Chen and Ye Shen 14-21, 21-15, 21-16 in 53 minutes.
They will next face the Malaysian pair of Teik Chai Gan and Bin Shen Tan.