Saina, along with her compatriots Neha Pandit, Ajay Jayaram and Parupalli Kashyap, kept the Indian flag flying in the singles.
But there was bad news for Indians in the doubles as, barring the men’s doubles teams of Manish Gupta and Gaurav Venkat and the top rated pair of Sanave Thomas and Rupesh Kumar, none could cross the first hurdle.
Saina, seeded third, didn’t have to sweat much as she defeated unseeded Pui Yin Yip of Hong Kong 21-14, 21-6 in 29 minutes in the first round of women’s singles at the Siri Fort Sports Complex.
Saina and Pui were engaged in close battle at 8-5 but the World No.5 displayed her class and bagged three points to make it 11-5. From then it was a catching up job for Pui as Saina won the first game easily.
In the second game, Pui was no match for Saina, who led 11-6 a one point. From there on, there was no stopping Saina, who clinched 10 consecutive points to start her campaign on a bright note.
In the other women singles, Neha Pandit made it a double delight as she defeated Malaysian 21-18 9-21 21-19. Neha started off well winning the close first game but she was disappointing in the second. The Indian, however, came back well in the decider to win it 21-19.
P.V. Sindhu was the third Indian to make into the pre-quarters of the women’s singles with a hard fought 21-17, 21-19 win over Chinese Taipei’s Tzu Ying Tai.
In the men’s singles, Jayaram had to fight hard for his victory against compatriot Sourabh Verma, beating him 21-15, 17-21, 21-11 in 55 minutes.
In the first game, both the players shared the lead in the early stages. Verma, who was 7-4 up, failed to hold on to his lead and was completely dominated in the second half of the game. The second game was a much tighter affair as Verma shocked his more fancied opponent with some brilliant net play. In the third, Jayaram proved why he was the best amongst the Indians, totally dominating the game and winning it convincingly.
Kahsyap recorded a convincing 21-11, 21-14 win over Belgium’s Yuhan Tan and took just 33 minutes to advance to the next round.
The first game was a stroll in the park for the Indian as he maintained his lead over the Belgian from start to finish, winning whopping seven points in a row. Kashyap carried on in the same vein in the second game as well never giving his opponent a chance to get settled in the game.
Manish and Gaurav won 21-14, 15-21, 21-15 against compatriots Sanjeeth.S and Jagadish Yadav while Thomas and Kumar got a walkover against the top seeded South Korean pair of Jae Sung Jung and Yong Dae Lee.
India’s top mixed doubles pair of Jwala Gutta and V. Diju also lost 18-21, 19-21 against the Chinese pair of Tao Jiaming and Xia Huan.