The Indian contingent got off to a good start at the Crown Group Australian Open in Sydney with Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu, Srikanth Kidambi and Sai Praneeth making their way into the second round on Wednesday.
The defending champion Saina rebounded from her second round defeat at last week’s Indonesia Open in fabulous fashion with a strong 21-10, 21-16 upset win over the fourth seed and World No. 5 Sung Ji Hyun.
The Korean had beaten Saina in their last career meeting at the All England Open quarter-finals and was coming off a runner-up show at Jakarta last week. So, this was a huge confidence-boosting victory for Nehwal indeed.
Fifth seed PV Sindhu soon followed her into Round 2 even though she had a much tougher job.
The India Open champion, who too had suffered a shock second round defeat at the Indonesia Open, needed 1 hour 5 minutes to outlast the Indonesia Open champion Sayaka Sato, 21-17, 14-21, 21-18.
Sindhu led 13-10 in the second game and looked to be in total control of the second game when the Japanese staged a great comeback. Sindhu managed to add just one more point after that in the second game and went on to lose the game, 14-21.
While Saina next faces Malaysian Soniia Cheah, Sindhu will take on Chen Xiaoxin of China, who beat India’s Ruthvika Shivani Gadde, 21-17, 12-21, 21-12.
Srikanth keeps on winning, Sai Praneeth wins too
On the men’s side, the Indonesia Open champion Srikanth Kidambi won his sixth match in a row when he breezed past qualifier Kan Chao Yu, 21-13, 21-16 in just 27 minutes. For Srikanth to continue his winning streak, he has to summon the courage that he displayed last week in Jakarta as he faces the World No. 1 Son Wan Ho yet again.
Srikanth stunned the Korean in three gruelling games in Indonesia and will hope for an encore of that performance when he locks horns with Son on Thursday. The top seed overcame a challenge from another Indian today – Parupalli Kashyap. The Commonwealth Games champion, who is a qualifier at this tournament after an injury break, fought bravely but went down, 18-21, 21-14, 15-21 in 1 hour 5 minutes.
Singapore Open winner B Sai Praneeth, meanwhile, notched up his first career win over Indonesia’s Tommy Sugiarto. It wasn’t easy though as he had to come back from a one-game deficit for the 10-21, 21-12, 21-10 win.
He next faces China’s World No. 21 Huang Yuxiang for a place in the quarter-finals.
Indonesia Open’s giant-killer HS Prannoy could not repeat his heroics from last week and succumbed to a 19-21, 13-21 defeat to Rajiv Ouseph amidst a heap of unforced errors.
Ajay Jayaram too had to bite the dust with a 21-14, 10-21, 9-21 loss to the seventh seed NG Ka Long Angus.
Young Siril Verma lost 16-21, 8-21 to the Danish veteran Hans-Kristian Vittinghus.
Rankireddy and Shetty upset World No. 26 duo
The teenage men’s doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty upset the World No. 26 duo of Law Cheuk Him and Lee Chun Hei Reginald 20-22, 21-19, 21-11 in 56 minutes.
Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy too had a brilliant win in women’s doubles when they beat Australians Hsuan-Yu Wendy Chen and Jennifer Tam, 21-11, 21-13 in just 29 minutes.