Birthday boy Ajay Jayaram and B Sai Praneeth were the only Indian shuttlers to bring joy to the contingent in the first round of the Korea Open Superseries in Seoul on Wednesday as the rest of their compatriots went down fighting in three games.
The 35th ranked Sai Praneeth had the bigger win of the two as he prevailed over the World No. 26 Hsu Jen Hao, 21-13, 12-21, 21-15. The 18th ranked Jayaram, meanwhile, was the only Indian able to complete his match in straight games and emerged a 23-21, 21-18 winner over World No. 22 Jeon Hyeok Jin.
In the second round on Thursday, while Sai Praneeth will face the sixth seed Son Wan Ho, Jayaram will take on the 34th ranked Chinese Huang Yuxiang.
Kidambi Srikanth, Parupalli Kashyap bite the dust
While they soared high, four Indians exited the tournament on Day 2. Among them was the India No. 1 and eighth seed Kidambi Srikanth. The 23-year-old had reached the quarter-finals of the Japan Open Superseries just last week and was expected to do well in this event.
But the World No. 14 faltered against the 20th ranked Wong Wing Ki Vincent of Hong Kong. Srikanth saved a match point in the second game in a remarkable comeback only to see his efforts go in vain in a 10-21, 24-22, 17-21 defeat in 55 minutes.
It was the same scene in the other two men’s singles matches as well. Commonwealth Games champion Parupalli Kashyap, who won two thrilling matches in qualifying on Tuesday, could not keep his momentum going against the fourth seed Tian Houwei of China. The 30-year-old won a close first game but faded away in the next two as Houwei rebounded for a 20-22, 21-10, 21-13 win.
Kashyap has just returned to the Tour following a recovery from a knee injury that shattered his dreams of qualifying for the Rio Olympics. This was just his third tournament since the comeback.
HS Prannoy too departed in the first round. The World No. 31 also raised hopes of a win after he won the first game. Unfortunately for Prannoy, he failed to withstand the powerful play from the 39th ranked Chinese Taipei player Wang Tzu Wei in the closing stages of the match. Wang carved out a 21-23, 21-17, 21-15 win in 57 minutes.
In women’s singles, India’s solo entrant Tanvi Lad too met with the same fate. The World No. 73 went down 18-21, 21-13, 18-21 to the 41st ranked Anna Thea Madsen of Denmark.Published 28 Sep 2016, 21:29 IST