The opening day of the Crown Group Australian Open 2017 turned out to be a happy one for the Indian badminton contingent as three shuttlers won their qualifying rounds to book a place in the main draw. Parupalli Kashyap, Ruthvika Shivani Gadde and Siril Verma each won two rounds to make it to the last 32 at the Sydney Olympic Park Sports Centre on Tuesday.
Kashyap beats the Indonesian Open runner-up
Kashyap had the biggest wins out of the three. The Commonwealth Games gold medallist is in the middle of his comeback from a shoulder injury that he sustained while playing the Premier Badminton League final in January.
He returned to competition at the China Masters in April and played only the Thailand Open after that, winning a total of two matches out of four.
The Australian Open is his third event since he came back and his first at the Superseries level.
Now ranked 69th, the former World No. 6 showed flashes of his brilliance to beat the World No. 40 Zhao Junpeng, 21-15, 21-18 in just 34 minutes.
The 30-year-old followed it up with a huge 21-5, 21-16 victory over the Indonesian Open runner-up Kazumasa Sakai of Japan that took 29 minutes only.
Kashyap now has a tough job of facing the top seed Son Wan Ho in the first round. If he manages to oust the Korean, he can set up a blockbuster all-Indian second round meeting with the Indonesian Open champion Srikanth Kidambi.
Former junior World No. 1 Siril Verma, meanwhile, was equally impressive in his 21-9, 21-9 win over Indonesian teenager Yehezkiel Fritz Mainaky. He had a comparatively harder second round where he got the better of his compatriot, Shreyansh Jaiswal 21-16, 21-14.
Verma will be up against the World No. 29 Hans-Kristian Vittinghus.
In the women’s singles section, India will now have three contenders after Russian Open champion Ruthvika Shivani Gadde joined Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu.
Ruthvika, who resumed competitive play recently at the Thailand Open after a long break, easily beat local hopes Sylvina Kurniawan, 21-15, 21-15 and Ruwindi Serasinghe, 21-9, 21-7.
She is slated for a first-round duel with Chinese World No. 33 Chen Xiaoxin. Ruthvika can face PV Sindhu in Round 2 if both win their opening round matches.