Just two days after the Hong Kong Open Superseries, the Indian badminton contingent is off to a new challenge at the Macau Open Grand Prix Gold that got under way at the Tap Seac Multisport Pavilion Macau on Tuesday. Three Indians out of the four in action – Sameer Verma, Parupalli Kashyap and B Sai Praneeth – made it to the second round while HS Prannoy was the only exception, who had to retire injured.
Verma, who was the breakout star at the final Superseries tournament of the year, continued from where he had left off. The Hong Kong Open runner-up needed just 33 minutes to prevail over Milan Ludik of the Czech Republic, 21-11, 21-16.
He will next take on Indonesia’s Muhammad Bayu Pangisthu for a place in the pre-quarter-finals.
B Sai Praneeth had an even easier win in his opener. The World No. 36 took on Brazil’s Lam Hou Him, who is ranked 833. The big gulf in the rankings was obvious when the Indian thrashed Him, 21-3, 21-8 in just 19 minutes.
Praneeth will be up against China’s Sun Feixiang in the second round.
Commonwealth Games champion Parupalli Kashyap, who is in the midst of a comeback from injury, progressed into Round 2 without touching his racquet when Malaysia’s Sim Guo Zheng handed him a walkover. The 30-year-old has set up a clash with Chinese Taipei’s Chun-Wei Chen, who won after the seventh seed Prannoy had to call it quits while trailing 2-6.
The Pullela Gopichand protégé posted on Facebook after the unfortunate end to his campaign and hopes to return to full fitness by the start of next year.
The women’s singles challenge, meanwhile, will be led by Saina Nehwal, who is the top seed. The World No. 11 will start off against Indonesia’s World No. 44 Hanna Ramadini on Wednesday. She is the only Indian left in the women’s singles draw after the withdrawal of three-time champion PV Sindhu. Fatigue after two back-to-back tournaments and qualifying for the World Superseries Finals prompted the 21-year-old to take a brief break from the Tour.
The only Indian doubles pair at this tournament is the men’s doubles third-seeded duo of Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy, who begin against Hong Kong’s Chan Alan Yun Lung and LI Kuen Hon.