China Open round-up: PV Sindhu, Ajay Jayaram, HS Prannoy progress; Saina Nehwal exits
On a day of mixed fortunes for Indian shuttlers at the China Open Superseries Premier in Fuzhou, China, PV Sindhu, Ajay Jayaram and HS Prannoy progressed but Saina Nehwal and B Sai Praneeth crashed out.
This was Nehwal’s first competition in three months since undergoing a knee surgery after an ill-fated campaign at the Rio Olympics in August. Her first round match at this tournament was thus much-awaited.
The World No. 6, seeded fourth at this event, eventually lost her comeback match to the 13th ranked Porntip Buranaprasertsuk of Thailand but not before reminding the world what a tremendous fighter she still is. Nehwal, who won the China Open title in 2014 and reached the final last year, staged an impressive comeback from 16-21 and 4-11 down in the second game to stretch the match to a decider.
She kept the third game competitive till the lemon break but faded away on resumption to succumb to a 16-21, 21-19, 14-21 loss in 59 minutes.
Rio Olympic silver medallist PV Sindhu, meanwhile, made a blazing start to her campaign as she thrashed Chinese Taipei’s World No. 55 Chia Hsin Lee 21-12, 21-16 in just 34 minutes. The only time that Lee managed to provide some resistance was deep in the second game when she bagged three points in a row to reduce the gap from 11-16 to 14-16. Her joy was short-lived as the 21-year-old Indian soon managed to regroup for the victory.
The seventh seed will next face the reigning Dutch Open champion Beiwen Zhang, ranked 16th in the world.
HS Prannoy upsets World No. 14
In men’s singles, HS Prannoy had the best win out of the three Indian shuttlers who participated in this category. The World No. 28 put up a determined display to topple the 14th ranked Hong Kong player NG Ka Long Angus, 21-13, 21-13.
He will next meet World No. 24 Qiao Bin of China for a place in the quarter-finals.
Ajay Jayaram, in contrast, had to take the long, hard road to victory. The World No. 23 was cruising to a comfortable win being up 21-19, 17-13 before the 235th ranked Chinese Zhu Siyuan made a comeback to force a deciding game. Jayaram finally emerged the victor with a 21-19, 20-22, 21-17 win in 1 hour 2 minutes.
He will lock horns with the 30th ranked Wei Nan in the second round.
The only casualty in men’s singles was B Sai Praneeth, who lost 16-21, 9-21 to World No. 15 Marc Zwiebler of Germany.