A bad season only got worse for Saina as the world number six, who did not win a single title this year, failed to recover from the opening match lose and suffered a 9-21 14-21 defeat to the world number one Chinese in women's singles competition at the Kuala Lumpur Badminton Stadium.
The 23-year-old Indian had defeated the Chinese twice in the past during her 2012 Indonesia Open triumph and in 2010 Singapore Super Series but those two victories could not spur up Saina enough as she went down in just 27 minutes to defending champion Li.
In the first game, Li did not give much chance to Saina as the Chinese first opened up a massive 8-1 lead and even though the Indian did well to claw back to 8-10, Li soon stamped her authority to nose ahead rather easily with eight straight points from 13-9.
Saina raised hopes of a fightback early in the second game but Li broke off at 5-5 and did not allow the Indian to come close before sealing the issue without much ado.
It was Saina's sixth defeat to Li, the silver medallist at Guangzhou World Championship this year. The Indian had lost to Minatsu Mitani. She will next play Yeon Ju Bae of Korea in the last group.
Plagued by injuries and inconsistent form this year, Saina made early exits in tournaments throughout the year but she had hoped for a change of fortune in the extremely competitive Super Series Finals, where the top eight shuttlers compete for the coveted title.


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