Indian shuttler PV Sindhu made a winning return to the circuit since her historic silver medal-winning Rio Olympics campaign to enter the second round of the Denmark Open in Odense on Wednesday. The sixth seed warded off a late surge from the 11th ranked Chinese He Bingjiao to prevail 21-14, 21-19 in 37 minutes.
The 2015 runner-up will next face the 12th ranked Sayaka Sato of Japan for a place in the quarter-finals.
In the earlier matches, Ajay Jayaram and HS Prannoy were the only Indians who could make it through to the second round. The 2016 Dutch Open runner-up Jayaram comfortably beat the 30th ranked Boonsak Ponsana of Thailand, 21-15, 21-16 in 36 minutes.
HS Prannoy had a far tougher route to victory as he saved a match point to eke out a thrilling 21-13, 19-21, 22-20 win over Malaysia qualifier Wei Feng Chong in a gritty contest that lasted 1 jour 3 minutes.
Prannoy has an uphill task next as he next faces the top seed and Word No. 1 Lee Chong Wei. Jayaram’s opponent is yet to be decided and he is likely to cross swords with the third seed Jan O Jorgensen of Denmark.
For the 21-year-old Sindhu, this was a tough encounter in her very first match since the Olympics. He Bingjiao has been an opponent who has troubled her whole year and had even posted two wins over her in three showdowns. The Chinese had an overall lead of 3-1 prior to this contest. Bingjiao was also in very good form having clinched the Japan Open Superseries at the end of September.
But Sindhu smartly worked her way to a win, never conceding the lead to the Chinese even when the World No. 11 made a comeback and levelled the score towards the end of the match.
The World No. 8 made a dominating start to the match and surged to an 11-6 lead at the mid-game interval. The rest of the first game looked to be heading the same way as the confident Sindhu showed her improved defence to grab the opener, 21-14.
The first half of the second game too was fully in Sindhu’s grip where she soared to take a commanding 11-5 lead at the lemon break. However, the Chinese made it a hard-fought affair when the match resumed.
After the Indian raced ahead to 19-16, the Chinese made a superb comeback to level matters at 19-19. A gruelling, energy-sapping rally ensued where the Rio medallist came out on top to have a match point which she soon converted.