Li rocks Nehwal as Rockets beat Warriors

World number two Saina Nehwal suffered a shock defeat to Han Li as the Mumbai Rockets defeated the Awadhe Warriors 3-0 to advance to the final of the Premier Badminton League.

The Warriors got off to the better start on the night, as Bodin Issara and Christinna Pedersen came from a game down to beat Vladimir Ivanov and Kamilla Rytter Juhl 12-15, 15-13, 15-14 in the opening mixed doubles match.

But the Rockets got back on level terms when H.S. Prannoy also came from behind to beat Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk 12-15, 15-7, 15-9 in the first of two men’s singles matches.

The men’s doubles contest followed, and Issara, this time partnering Chinese legend Cai Yun, went down 15-10, 12-15, 15-13 to Ivanov and Mathias Boe in another closely contested encounter.

That gave the Rockets a 2-1 lead, but with the Trump matches to come, the tie was still very much up for grabs.

The women’s singles followed, and the Warriors put all their faith in Nehwal, selecting the contest as their Trump match.

No one expect the Indian shuttler to go down to China’s Li, but the danger signs were evident when Li took the first game 15-8.

Nehwal hit back strongly in the second game, taking it 15-13, but Li had the last laugh, dominating the last game to complete a 15-8, 13-15, 15-7 victory.

With the Warriors losing their Trump match, they were docked one point, making it 3-0 to the Rockets, effectively sealing the win for the Mumbai side.

The final men’s singles was abandoned as a result.

The Rockets move on to face the Delhi Acers in Sunday’s Premier Badminton League final.