China Open: PV Sindhu, Ajay Jayaram reach quarter-finals; HS Prannoy ousted
The Indian badminton contingent met with mixed fortunes at the China Open Superseries Premier on Thursday as PV Sindhu and Ajay Jayaram won their respective second round matches but HS Prannoy crashed out.
The seventh-seeded Sindhu’s second round rollercoaster was in sharp contrast to her blazing performance in the opener on Wednesday. The Rio Olympic silver medallist needed an hour to douse the challenge of the Dutch Open champion Beiwen Zhang, 18-21, 22-20, 21-17.
Sindhu was two points away from defeat
The 21-year-old squandered a lead to let the American back into the match and even get within two points of a win. In the opening game, it was the Indian who was ahead 11-7 and even extended the lead to 13-10 before the World No. 16 showed tremendous guts to come back and seal the game, 21-18.
Sindhu recovered from the setback to make a dazzling start to the second game and in no time, stormed ahead 8-0 before the American could even get on the board. At the mid-game interval, the devastating Sindhu was way ahead at 11-2, having developed a nine-point gap between herself and her rival.
Yet, when the match resumed, the Indian found herself trailing 16-18, having fallen victim to a string of errors which galvanized the Zhang comeback. The business end of the game turned out to be dramatic as Sindhu seemed to find her missing spark and secured a game point at 20-19. But she let it go with yet another error at the net. Finally, on her second game point, she succeeded in leveling the match.
The decider remained very competitive in the early stages and the World No. 11 was able to grab a slender 11-9 lead at the lemon break. In the second half, Zhang tried her best to extract errors from Sindhu by prolonging the rallies but her own lack of sharpness let her down as the Indian closed out the win.
Sindhu to meet her nemesis next
She next meets the in-form World No.10 He Bingjiao of China, who has won three of her last five tournaments and is currently on a 12-match winning streak. She has been Sindhu’s nemesis this year and has beaten the Indian thrice in five meetings. Suffice to say, the Indian needs to be at her immaculate best if she wants to progress to the semi-finals.
Jayaram makes it double delight for India
Later on, the 23rd ranked Ajay Jayaram made it double delight for India in men’s singles. The Dutch Open runner-up eked out a tough 20-22, 21-19, 21-12 win over the 29th ranked Wei Nan.
He has an uphill task ahead of him with the second seed Chen Long being his quarter-final opponent.
HS Prannoy, in contrast, did not have the same fate. The World No. 27 lost 17-21, 19-21 to Qiao Bin, ranked just one place above him.