Kuala Lumpur:Saina Nehwal staved off the challenge from Hsiao Huan Chen of Chinese Taipei in an edge-of-the-seat second round match to enter the quarterfinal of the Malaysian Super Series on Thursday.
World number 10 Saina beat Chen 21-16, 19-21, 21-19 in a thrilling battle that lasted 48 minutes.
In the quarterfinal, Saina will face Hongyan Pi of France whom she had defeated in the round-robin league of World Super Series Masters Finals here last month.
In the first game, Saina did not give any chance to her opponent and opened up a 13-9 lead and although Chen tried to draw level, Saina gradually moved on to 17-13 before wrapping the game 21-16.
Stung by the reversal, Chen rallied to open an 8-6 lead in the second game and then moved to 11-8. Even though Saina drew level at 12-12, the Chinese Taipei shuttler turned the table and pocketed and the game 21-19 to stay afloat.
With the match positioned 1-1, the third game was a virtual cliffhanger with Chen Chen wresting early initiative and taking a three-point lead at 12-9.
Pushed to the brink, Saina, a quarterfinalist in the Beijing Olympics, battled her heart out, drawing level at 12-12 and going neck-and-neck at 14-14, 16-16 and 18-18. Levelled at 19-all, the 18-year-old Indian broke free and grabbed the next two points to seal the game.
However, there was disappointment in the mixed doubles match as the Indian pair of V Diju and Jwala Gutta was sent packing 21-18 21-14 by local pair Kien Keat Koo and Hui Lin Ng in the second round.