Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth marched into the second round as main draw action at the Spain Masters 2020 got underway in Barcelona, Spain on Wednesday. Also making it to Round 2 were Sameer Verma, Ajay Jayaram and the mixed doubles pair of Pranaav Jerry Chopra and Sikki Reddy whereas HS Prannoy and Parupalli Kashyap bowed out of this Super 300 event.
Nehwal, who made it to the quarter-finals of the Malaysia Masters at the start of the year, suffered early losses in the next two events before opting out of the fifth season of the Premier Badminton League. The well-rested Indian ace was at her best against World No. 42 Yvonne Li whom she took 35 minutes to get the better of in a 21-16, 21-14 scoreline.
In men's singles, third seed Kidambi Srikanth staved off a stiff challenge from compatriot Subhankar Dey to record a 23-21, 21-18 win in 41 minutes. Both Srikanth and Dey entered this tournament on the back of commendable performances at the Badminton Asia Team Championships last week.
Dey had upset World No. 20 Shesar Hiren Rhustavito at the continental event and brought that same confidence into this match as he made the World No. 12 work hard for the win.
Both Srikanth and Nehwal are looking to make a deep run at the Spain Masters in order to fulfill their Tokyo Olympic dream. While the London Olympic bronze medallist next faces Maria Ulitina of Ukraine, Srikanth takes on former World No. 13 Ajay Jayaram, who beat qualifier Christo Popov 21-14, 21-12.
Sameer Verma faced no hassle in his first-found clash with Lucas Claerbout of France. The Indian blew away the Frenchman 21-12, 21-9 to set up a second-round meeting with German shuttler, Kai Schaefer. The latter came from a game down to beat the experienced Misha Zilberman 13-21, 21-12, 21-13.
HS Prannoy, meanwhile, could not overcome the Daren Liew hurdle. The former World No. 10 raced to a commanding 21-18, 21-15 win over the Indian. 2014 Commonwealth Games champion Parupalli Kashyap had a back spasm which forced him to retire while trailing against Ygor Coelho 21-9, 18-21, 12-14.
In mixed doubles, Pranaav Jerry Chopra and Sikki Reddy rebounded in style after losing the first game to register a 10-21, 21-16, 21-17 win against Danish duo of Mathias Christiansen and Alexandra Boje.