Lucknow, Nov 25:
Former three-time winner Saina Nehwal and reigning champion Sameer Verma were a step away from clinching the men’s and women’s singles titles respectively, reaching the finals of the Syed Modi International World Tour Super 300 here on Saturday.
Third seed Sameer, who won titles at Swiss and Hyderabad this year, saw off Indonesia’s Chico Aura Dwi Wardoyo 21-13, 17-21, 21-8 in a 57-minute men’s singles semifinals.
The world number 16 Indian will face sixth seeded Chinese Lu Guangzu in the summit clash.
Saina, seeded second, prevailed over another Indonesian Ruselli Hartawan 12-21, 21-7, 21-6 to set up a clash with China’s Han Yue, who defeated compatriot Li Xuerui 21-15, 19-21, 21-9 in another semifinal.
Commonwealth Games bronze medallists Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy also made it to their second successive finals here with a 21-18, 21-16 win over Russian combination of Ekaterina Bolotova and Alina Davletova.
Ashwini, however, couldn’t progress to the finals of the mixed doubles event after she and her partner Satwiksairaj Rankireddy went down narrowly 12-21, 21-18, 19-21 to the Chinese pair of Ou Xuanyi and Feng Xueying in the semifinals early in the day.
World No. 9 Saina found the going tough in the beginning and conceded a 5-2 lead. She tried to claw back but Ruselli managed to hold a 11-7 advantage at the first break and then pocketed the opening game, much to the disappointment of the crowd.
Jolted by the reversal, Saina gathered her wits and dished out a dominating game after an initial 4-4 battle with her Indonesian opponent. The Indian reeled off five points to reach 9-4 and then quickly jumped to 16-6 before roaring back into the contest with another five straight points.
The decider was no different with Saina continuing her domination, moving to 8-2 at one stage before accumulating the next eight points to take the match away from her opponent.
She sealed the contest comfortably in the end to make it to her fourth final here.