French Open Badminton: Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth enter quarter-finals
Day 3 of the French Open 2018 turned out to be a good day for the Indian contingent as all three of India's top singles shuttlers -- Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth -- made it to the quarter-finals of this Super 750 badminton tournament, held in Paris. In doubles, India's two highest-ranked men's doubles pairs set up a rare quarter-final showdown with each other.
All eyes were on the Saina Nehwal vs Nozomi Okuhara second-round clash on Thursday. A week after Nehwal edged the Japanese at the Denmark Open, they were facing each other again, although this time the meeting was a round earlier.
The former world champion started as the stronger of the two. But as the match progressed, Saina grew in confidence. By cutting down on her errors and going for her shots freely, she put pressure on the Japanese until the World No. 6 crumbled to a 21-10, 14-21, 17-21 defeat in 72 minutes.
Up next for Nehwal is the top seed and World No. 1 Tai Tzu Ying. The two will meet five days after their three-game final at the Denmark Open.
Defending men's singles champion Kidambi Srikanth found the initial stages of his second round match against Korea's Lee Dong Keun tough. The Indian had lost both his previous meetings to Lee and it looked like he could be heading to his third consecutive defeat when he conceded the first game 12-21.
It was midway through the second game when the World No. 6 managed to raise his level and began to show his champion qualities before he could notch up a 12-21, 21-16, 21-18 win in 1 hour 13 minutes.
Srikanth's path gets tougher as he next faces the World No. 1 Kento Momota in the quarter-finals. Srikanth has lost all his four meetings with the Japanese this year.
PV Sindhu, last year's semi-finalist, had the easiest time on court out of the three Indian superstars. The third seed prevailed over Japan's Sayaka Sato 21-17, 21-16 in 45 minutes to set up a quarter-final clash with seventh seed He Bingjiao.
Sai Praneeth was beaten 16-21, 14-21 by the Asian Games gold medallist Jonatan Christie.
Doubles pairs shine
India's men's doubles pairs impressed on Day 3 of this tournament as both Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty and Manu Attri-Sumeeth Reddy notched up wins.
The latter caused a huge upset when they sent the third seeds Liu Cheng and Zhang Nan packing 21-14, 21-16. The win pits them against Rankireddy and Shetty, who beat China's He Jiting and Tan Qiang 21-13, 21-19. Rankireddy and Shetty reached the quarter-finals last year as well.
India's campaign ended in women's doubles with the 15-21, 13-21 defeat of Meghana Jakkampudi and Poorvisha S Ram to fourth seeds Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu.