World No.5 Saina Nehwal powered through to the second round of the India Open Superseries, dispatching her Hong Kong opponent with little fuss at the Siri Fort Complex on Wednesday. Saina’s win was at the end of a good day for India, as PV Sindhu, P Kashyap, Neha Pandit and a few doubles teams progressed.
Despite her quick on-court session, which ended in 29 minutes, Saina gave credit to her opponent, world No.19 Yip Pui Yin. “I’ve beaten her the last three-four times, so I expected it to go easy for me. But she was hitting very hard and moving quick,” the world No.5 said. “It wasn’t easy. Maybe her confidence against me is not high. I was defending well, and smashing at every opportunity. The court was fast from one side, and the strokes from that side were very sharp, so in the first game it worked well for her. She’s a good player; she goes to three games with the top players. But her confidence against me is not good. ”
There were several encouraging results for India — PV Sindhu upset world No.15 Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei, while the scratch pair of Tarun Kona/ Ashwini Ponnappa prevailed over Muhd Rijal/ Debby Susanto in a thriller, 20-22 21-18 22-20.
The only upset that the hosts suffered was the first-round loss of V Diju/ Jwala Gutta to Tao Jiaming/ Xia Huan of China, 21-18 21-19.
In the high-profile men’s singles, the big casualties were world No.6 Sho Sasaki, who fell unexpectedly to Jen Hao Hsu of Taipei, and world No.7 Lee Hyun Il, who was felled by Boonsak Ponsana of Thailand. Otherwise, most of the big names, including Peter Gade, Taufik Hidayat, Lee Chong Wei and Chen Jin motored ahead without many problems. So did Tine Baun,
National championships runner-up Neha Pandit provided an early impetus to India’s hopes by beating top Malaysian Tee Jing Yee 21-18 9-21 21-19. Both Ajay Jayaram and P Kashyap, in a race for the country’s lone Olympic slot, won their first round matches. Jayaram beat national champion Sourabh Verma and conceded that he was under a lot of pressure. “Obviously, qualifying for the Olympics is on my mind and I can feel the pressure,” Jayaram said. “Sourabh is a tough player to beat; he has a great defence.”
India’s top men’s doubles pair Rupesh and Sanave got an unexpected bonus when world No.2 Lee Yong Dae and Jung Jae Sung pulled out of their first round match.
Match-ups for Thursday:
1pm: Tarun Kona/ Ashwini Ponnappa vs Shoji Sato/ Shizuka Matsuo
4pm: P Kashyap (Ind) vs Boonsak Ponsana (Tha); Peter Gade (Den) vs Tanongsak (Tha)
4.45pm: Ajay Jayaram (Ind) vs 1-Lee Chong Wei (Mas);
5.30pm: Rupesh Kumar/ Sanave Thomas (Ind) vs Kim Ki Jung/ Kim Sa Rang (Kor); PV Sindhu vs Sung Ji Hyung (Kor)
6.15pm: Ashwini Ponnappa/ Jwala Gutta (Ind) vs Vita Marissa/ Nadya Melati (Ina)
7pm: Taufik Hidayat (Ina) vs Wang Zhengming (Chn)
7.45pm: 3-Saina Nehwal (Ind) vs Bae Youn Joo (Kor)