Continuing from where she left off at the World Championships in Basel last month, PV Sindhu showed some terrific form to move into the second round of the China Open 2019, the badminton calendar's final Super 1000 event being played at Changzhou, China.
While World Championships bronze medallist Sai Praneeth and 2014 Commonwealth Games champion, Parupalli Kashyap advanced, former winner Saina Nehwal crashed out.
In a blockbuster first-round face-off between two former China Open champions, Sindhu staved off a stiff challenge from the home favourite Li Xuerui to take the opening game 21-18 and then simply cruised through the second to post a 21-18, 21-12 win in 35 minutes. The newly-crowned world champion, seeded fifth at this tournament, will now face World No. 15 Pornpawee Chochuwong for a place in the quarter-finals.
While the 2016 winner had it easy, curtains came down early on the campaign of the 2014 winner. Saina Nehwal's comeback from injury suffered yet another roadblock as she failed to counter the strokes of World No. 18 Busanan Ongbamrungphan and went down 10-21, 17-21. This was the Thai's second win over Nehwal in five meetings.
The Indian men's singles shuttlers, meanwhile, had a flawless opening day with both Sai Praneeth and Parupalli Kashyap progressing into the Round of 16. After a historic World Championships bronze medal that ended India's 36-year men's singles medal drought, Sai Praneeth looked determined to carry on playing with the newly-gained confidence.
In a tight first-round clash with World No. 37 Suppanyu Avihingsanon, the Indian lost the middle game but rebounded well to take the 21-19, 21-23, 21-14 win in 1 hour 12 minutes. Up next for Sai is World No. 21 Lu Guangzu, who knocked out an injured third-seeded Shi Yuqi 21-5, 21-9.
Kashyap did not have to exert much in his opening match with Brice Leverdez, whom he beat 21-12, 21-15 to set up a meeting with seventh seed Anthony Sinisuka Ginting.
Ashwini Ponnappa and Sikki Reddy advanced to the second round of women's doubles when their opponents, Cheng Chi Ya and Lee Chih Chen retired with the Indians leading 21-13, 11-8.
The men's doubles pair of Manu Attri-Sumeeth Reddy and the mixed doubles combine of Pranaav Jerry Chopra-Sikki Reddy both departed.