Badminton Asia Championships 2018: Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu ease into second round; Kidambi Srikanth, HS Prannoy survive scares
Following their superb run at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, the Indian shuttlers started off positively at the Asia Badminton Championship being held in Wuhan, China.
While Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu made short work of their opponents in the first round, the men had it tougher. Kidambi Srikanth, HS Prannoy and B Sai Praneeth were all stretched and needed three games for their opening round wins.
The men's doubles the pair of Arjun MR and Shlok Ramchandran and the women's doubles pair of Meghana Jakkampudi and Poorvisha S Ram joined the singles stars in the second round.
Saina, Sindhu have it easy
Saina, who bagged the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games by beating compatriot Sindhu in the final, hardly broke a sweat as she breezed past Singapore's Yeo Jia Min 21-12, 21-9 in just 33 minutes. It was a brilliant display from the 28-year-old star who is gradually showing signs of a solid comeback from injury problems that plagued her last year.
The World No. 12 will now face China's Gao Fangjie who pulled off a huge upset win over Nozomi Okuhara of Japan earlier today. This result meant Saina would avoid the Japanese star in the second round. Nevertheless, she faces a stiff challenge tomorrow when she takes on the tricky customer, Gao.
World No. 3 Sindhu, also, managed to register a straightforward win as she saw off Chinese Taipei's Pai Yu Po 21-14, 21-19 in just 44 minutes. Her next challenge will be World No. 22 Xiaoxin Chen of China.
Srikanth registers comeback win; Close shaves for Prannoy, Sai Praneeth
Top seed Srikanth, who won the silver medal in Gold Coast earlier this month, made his way into the second round with a hard-fought victory over World No. 13 Kenta Nishimoto of Japan. The World No. 5 suffered a shock loss in the first game but managed to turn around the game and win 13-21, 21-16, 21-16 in 61 minutes. He will take on Wong Wing Ki Vincent of Hong Kong in the pe-quarters.
Prannoy, who climbed back into the top 10 in last week's rankings, saw off Thai shutter Kantaphon Wangcharoen 21-15, 19-21, 21-19 to enter the second round. Sai Praneeth, also, had to toil hard in his win over Thailand's Suppanyu Avihingsanon as he won 21-13, 11-21, 21-19.
The other Indian in the fray, Sameer Verma, gave his all against seventh seed Chou Tien Chen of Chinese Taipei. However, he could not eke out a win, losing 21-23 17-21.
Disappointment in Doubles
World No. 46 pair of Arjun MR and Ramchandran pulled off a terrific win to hit the ground running. The duo beat the higher ranked South Korean pair of Chung Eui Seok and Kim Dukyoung 25-23, 23-21. However, Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy crashed out of the first round losing 14-21, 16-21 to Bodin Isara and Nipitphon Phuangphuapet.
Women's doubles pairs of Aparna Balan and Sruthi KP lost and Kuhoo Garg and Ningshi Block Hazarika exited from the first round. On the other hand, Meghana and Poorvisha kept their cool in tight situations to eke out a narrow 14-21, 22-20, 21-17 win over Singapore's Ong Ren-Ne and Wong Jia Ying Crystal.
In the other doubles fixtures of the day featuring Indians, there was only disappointment. Saurabh Sharma and Anoushka Parikh, Venkat Gaurav Prasad and Juhi Dewangan, and Rohan Kapoor and Kuhoo Garg all suffered straight game losses in the first round.