Still recovering from knee surgery, top seed Saina Nehwal struggled once more at the $120,000 Macau Open Grand Prix Gold but managed to dig deep for a three-game win en route to the quarter-finals on Thursday. The former World No. 1 was put to a test by the World No. 51 Dinar Dyah Ayustine of Indonesia, who took the opening game of their second-round match 21-17.
And this was after the Indian had led 11-7 at the mid-game interval. But just like she had done in all her matches since her return to the circuit, the 26-year-old managed to stretch this second round contest to a decider.
At the beginning of the second game, Nehwal looked unstoppable. From 0-3 down, she bagged 11 points in a row to go up 11-3 at the lemon break. Even though Ayustine was able to cut down the big lead to just a four-point gap at 10-14, Saina succeeded in keeping her surging opponent at bay by taking the second game 21-18.
In the deciding game, the Indian never relinquished her lead after getting it for the first time at 6-5. She grew more confident as the game wore on and kept on widening the gap between them. From 11-8, she soared to 17-10 through some impressive defensive skills before grabbing as many as eight match points of which she converted the first one for a 17-21, 21-18, 21-12 win. The match lasted 1 hour 2 minutes.
She will next square off against the Chinese teenager Zhang Yiman, who is currently ranked 226th.
Sai Praneeth upsets fifth seed
Saina was joined in the last-eight stage by B Sai Praneeth, who became the only Indian to advance to the quarter-finals of men’s singles. Praneeth, who has been in excellent form at this event, continues to sizzle as he toppled the fifth seed Wong Wing Ki Vincent of Hong Kong, 21-15, 21-17 in just 43 minutes.
The World No. 37 is yet to drop a game at the 2016 Macau Open so far.
However, Commonwealth Games champion Parupalli Kashyap, who is on a comeback trail, did not enjoy the same fortunes. The 30-year-old crashed out 13-21, 20-22 to Lin Yu Hsien of the Chinese Taipei in 45 minutes despite showing some quality shotmaking.
It was the same scene in men’s doubles as well. Third seeds Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy made a second round exit after a 20-22, 19-21 loss to the Singaporean combine of Danny Bawa Chrisnanta and Hendra Wijaya.