China Open: Brilliant start for PV Sindhu; Saina Nehwal bows out after a tough fight
All eyes were on Saina Nehwal at the China Open Superseries Premier as India’s golden girl was making her comeback at this Fuzhou tournament on Wednesday after a three-month hiatus that saw her having a knee surgery.
The World No. 6, seeded fourth at this event, eventually could not make it to Round 2 but not before reminding the world what a fighter she still is.
The 2014 champion, who also reached last year’s final, succumbed to the 13th ranked Porntip Buranaprasertsuk of Thailand, 16-21, 21-19, 14-21 in a 59-minute battle.
In contrast, the Rio Olympic silver medallist and seventh seed PV Sindhu had it easy and notched up a comfortable 21-12, 21-16 win over Chinese Taipei’s World No. 55 Chia Hsin Lee in just 34 minutes.
Nehwal kept it pretty competitive for most of the match. Considering this was her first match after the long break, it was a commendable effort from the former World No. 1.
She had beaten her Thai rival 9 out of 10 times before but this was a different occasion. In the first game, the Indian was engaged in a neck-and-neck contest with the World No. 13 till 16-16 following which the Thai pounced on the accelerator to take the last five points for 21-16.
With the first game in the bag, the Thai started the second game in a commanding fashion and built up a massive lead of 11-4 at the lemon break. Right at that time, Nehwal summoned all her courage to start an impressive fightback.
She first reduced the gap to just one point at 13-14 and took the lead for the first time to surge ahead, 19-18. She didn’t let go of the momentum and slammed shut the game, 21-19.
In the decider, the Indian was at level with the Thai till the mid-game interval where she trailed marginally, 10-11. But it was after the break that the scene changed completely as Nehwal finally began to feel the effects of her lay-off.
It was all Buranaprasertsuk from then on as the Thai managed to keep Saina at bay for the win.
Ruthless display from Sindhu
Sindhu, meanwhile, was totally in control of her match from start to finish. Showing her aggressive game, she surged to 11-7 at the interval before sealing the deal at 21-12.
There was no reprieve even in the second game. In an absolute ruthless display, she built an 11-4 lead at half-time before jumping to 16-11. The Taipei shuttler made it slightly competitive at that stage and took three points in a row to close in on 14-16. But the Indian soon regrouped and cruised to victory.