China Open 2017: Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu and HS Prannoy enter second round
The top Indian singles trio of Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu and HS Prannoy made it through to the second round of the $700, 000 Tahoe China Open as the rest of the contingent departed from the final Superseries Premier tournament of the season in Fuzhou, China on Wednesday. National champion Prannoy had the toughest outing out of the three as he needed 1 hour 29 minutes to stave off the challenge of the World No. 51 Lee Dong Keun of Korea, 18-21, 21-16, 21-19.
The World No. 11 trailed for the better part of the match against Lee, who had prevailed over the Indian in their only previous meeting that happened at the Japan Open two years ago. The French Open semi-finalist trailed 18-21, 8-11 as he struggled to counter the excellent defence of his lower-ranked opponent.
From there, the India No. 2 levelled the game and then came back from 13-15 down to hold his nerves and force a decider.
The third game too continued being competitive till 15-15 after which Prannoy inched ahead to 20-17. Lee saved a couple of match points before the Indian wrapped it up to set up a second round meeting with the 53rd ranked Lee Cheuk Yiu.
Curtains, however, came down on the campaign of the former national champion Sourabh Verma, who made a comeback at this event after sustaining an ankle injury. Verma grabbed a game but fell short in the end, losing 14-21, 21-15, 11-21 to the World No. 30 Brice Leverdez.
Lin Dan crashes out
Meanwhile, the tournament witnessed a big upset as the two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan crashed out in the first round. The third seed was sent packing 19-21, 16-21 by the 17th ranked Jonatan Christie of Indonesia in a 42 minute match in front of his home crowd.
Sindhu has to work hard, Saina has it easy
The top two women shuttlers of the country won their matches in contrasting fashion. 2014 champion Saina Nehwal hardly broke a sweat in her 21-12, 21-13 rout of Beiwen Zhang. The reigning Indian national champion now has an uphill task as she meets the fifth seeded Akane Yamaguchi, who accounted for her in the last two Superseies tournaments.
In the final match of the day, second seed and defending champion PV Sindhu faced stiff resistance from the Indonesia Open champion, Sayaka Sato before carving out a 24-22, 23-21 win in 59 minutes. The resilient Japanese even held a game point in the second game before the Indian could finally slam shut the match.
Sindhu now faces World No. 105 qualifier Han Yue in her quest for a place in the quarter-finals.
Doubles pairs bow out
The mixed doubles pair of Ashwini Ponnappa and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, who qualified for this tournament, was the only Indian doubles pair who could win a game. Ponnappa and Rankireddy gave a tough fight to the French Open semi-finalists Mathias Christiansen and Christinna Pedersen only to taste a 19-21, 21-17, 13-21 defeat in the end.
French Open men’s doubles quarter-finalists Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty lost 13-21, 13-21 to the fifth seeds Liu Cheng and Zhang Nan. The national champions Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy succumbed to an 18-21, 15-21 defeat to the top seeds Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljyo.
In women’s doubles, Ponnappa and Sikki Reddy were beaten 14-21, 15-21 by Korea’s Ha Na Baek and Chae Yoo Jung.