World champion PV Sindhu was the lone bright spot in the singles as the Indian contingent experienced mixed fortunes at the start of its campaign in the All England Open 2021 in Birmingham on Wednesday.
The men's doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty, and the women's doubles combine of Ashwini Ponnappa-Sikki Reddy, also emerged victorious on Day 1 of this Super 1000 tournament.
Eighth seed Kidambi Srikanth and Parupalli Kashyap, however, crashed out of the men's singles, as did the men's doubles pair of MR Arjun and Dhruv Kapila.
The fifth-seeded Sindhu staved off a late surge from World No. 32 Soniia Cheah to register a 21-11, 21-17 win in 39 minutes.
Fresh from a runner-up finish at the Swiss Open, the Rio Olympic silver medallist was looking to make a thunderous start at the All England Open, where she reached the semis in 2018.
The first game proved to be a breeze for the India No. 1 who didn't miss a beat against the Malaysian. Sindhu broke away from a 6-6 tie to have an 11-7 advantage at the mid-game interval before closing out the game with ease.
The second game turned out to be a competitive affair with Cheah staying hot on the heels of Sindhu throughout. Cheah's patience and persistence saw her claw her way back to 13-14 before she upped the ante to draw level at 17-17.
The World No. 7 had to summon her attacking game to wrest control of the match again. With a smash down the middle of the court, Sindhu went 18-17 up and grabbed the last four points of the match to complete the win.
PV Sindhu will next face World No. 45 Line Christophersen in her quest for a quarter-final spot at the All England Open.
In men's singles, Kidambi Srikanth suffered a defeat against World No. 57 Nhat Nguyen for the first time in three meetings. While the World No. 13 managed to pocket the middle game, the Irish shuttler held his nerve to topple the eighth seed 21-11, 15-21, 21-12 in exactly an hour.
2014 Commonwealth Games champion Parupalli Kashyap faced World No. 1 Kento Momota in the Japanese's first match on comeback to the BWF Tour after a year. The 34-year-old Indian gave a much better account of himself in the second game, but he still fell short as Momota finished with a 21-13, 22-20 win.
Satwik-Chirag cruise into second round of All England Open
Continuing their good form after making the semis at the Toyota Thailand Open and the Swiss Open, the men's doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty blew away England's Nikhar Garg and India's Aniruddha Mayekar 21-7, 21-10.
Ashwini Ponnappa and Sikki Reddy too were highly impressive in their 21-14, 21-12 win over Benyapa Aimsaard and Nuntakarn Aimsaard in women's doubles.
In men's doubles, MR Arjun and Dhruv Kapila exited the All England Open 2021 with a 13-21, 12-21 loss to the Malaysians, Ong Yew Sin and Teo Ee Yi.
Saina to open her All England Open 2021 challenge later in the day
With re-testing needed to investigate the unusually high number of positive COVID test results, all the matches on the first day of the All England Open 2021 had to be pushed back. Instead of a 9am start, the tournament started at 2pm, delaying Saina Nehwal's opening-round clash with seventh seed Mia Blichfeldt.
The former World No. 1, who made the final here in 2015, has an uphill task against the Swiss Open semi-finalist. Unless she can keep her unforced errors down, Saina might be shown the door as early as the first round.
Other than the London Olympic bronze medallist, HS Prannoy, Lakshya Sen, Sameer Verma are among the Indian stars yet to open their campaign at the All England Open 2021.