Badminton Asia Championships 2019: Saina, Sindhu and Sameer storm into quarters
Things have considerably looked up for the trio of Indians remaining in hot pursuit of medals at the ongoing 39th Badminton Asia Championships in the city of Wuhan, China. After a bittersweet start the previous day with the seventh seed Kidambi Srikanth crashing out and the doubles players being shown the door early, it was a brilliant day for the Indians on Thursday as Sameer Verma, PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal seized victory in each of their pre-quarterfinal encounters.
The first match featured Sameer Verma as he went up against Hong Kong's NG Ka Long Angus. Verma required only 43 minutes to edge past his opponent. He sealed the win with a very decisive 21-12, 21-19 scoreline on the board. With that, he has made a place for himself in the quarter-finals and has been pitched against China's Yuqi Shi.
The following important match featured the ace shuttler and fourth seed PV Sindhu. The lanky Hyderabadi was in brilliant form and did not have to break a sweat to brush aside her Indonesian opponent, Choirunnisa. Sindhu sailed into the quarters after delivering a dominating performance in 33 minutes with the scoreboard reading 21-15, 21-19 in her favour.
The final match of the day had 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medalist and touted favourite Saina Nehwal, who had an easy and breezy time on court as she swiftly overcame the small hurdle posed by her Korean opponent, Kim Ga Eun. Saina, ranked seventh, was a bronze medalist in the 2018 Asia Badminton Championships and she looked to be following the same route, in hopes of bettering her performance, as she outclassed the Korean in 21-13, 21-13 in a matter of 38 minutes.
However, Saina is scheduled to play World Number 2, Akane Yamaguchi in her quarter-final match and things will get a lot tighter. Saina will have to ensure that she does not leave room for any error when she goes up against Yamaguchi in the quarters. Yamaguchi has the advantage of a 7-2 head-to-head against Nehwal in her career but it'll be interesting to see if Nehwal can pull off an upset.
On the other hand, Sindhu has a relatively easier opponent to deal with in her quarters. She will be going up against China's Yanyan Cai. It should be comfortable sailing for the Hyderabadi.
Come tomorrow, we'll have Sindhu, Saina and Sameer Verma hoping to maintain their winning streak and keeping the medal hopes alive for the country by winning their quarter-final matches and getting themselves a place in the semi-finals of the Badminton Asia Championships.