Birmingham: Indian ace Saina Nehwal crashed out of the All England Championship after her gallant fight against world No. 3 Korean Sung Ji Hyun ended with a narrow 20-22, 20-22 loss in the women's singles quarterfinals of the Super Series Premier event.
World No. 10 Saina blew 17-12 and 9-6 leads in the two games to go down fighting against Sung in a 54-minute battle to drew curtains on India's campaign at the prestigious tournament on Friday night.
Olympic silver medallist P V Sindhu had also lost her quarterfinal match in straight games to world No. 1 Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei.
Saina had a 6-1 head-to-head record against the Korean going into the match but that didn't matter as Sung held on to her nerves in crucial moments to emerge victorious in their eighth meeting at the international circuit.
The 26-year-old from Hyderabad, who had clinched the Malaysia Masters Grand Prix Gold, had to do a catch up act right from the start but she managed to grab a four-point lead at the break after reeling off four straight points having levelled the scores at 7-7.
After the breather, Saina further consolidated her advantage to reach 17-12 at one stage but then the Korean pocketed eight points on the trot to grab three game point advantage.
Saina though managed to level par with three points, Sung closed the game with two points to earn the bragging rights. In the second game, the third seeded Korean opened up a 3-0 lead before Saina turned the tables and moved to a 9-6 lead. The Indian entered the break with a slender 11-9 lead but Sung once again clawed back and slowly distanced herself to reach a three match point advantage yet again.
A fighting Saina once again saved the three match points but only to allow Sung grab the crucial two points to end her campaign.