In a tale of contrasting fortunes for two of the top Indian shuttlers, World Championships bronze medallist Sai Praneeth made it to the second round of the Fuzhou China Open 2019 on Wednesday while Saina Nehwal crashed out.
All eyes were on the former World No. 1 after the reigning world champion PV Sindhu was sent packing in the opening round on Tuesday. The eighth seed, who had shown a resurgence at the French Open last month where she reached the quarter-finals, was expected to smoothly sail past China's 19-year-old Cai Yan Yan in their very first meeting.
But things did not go the Indian's way as she could hardly put up any resistance against the Asian Championships bronze medallist, bowing out tamely, 9-21, 12-21 in just 24 minutes.
Sai Praneeth, however, brought the smiles back on Indian faces with his gritty, come-from-behind victory over former World Championships bronze medallist Tommy Sugiarto. Sai entered this tournament with the confidence of having beaten the veteran Indonesian in their last two meetings and was definitely looking for an encore.
Things did not start too well for the World No. 11 who conceded the opening game 15-21 to the 16th-ranked shuttler. But the in-form Indian soon bounced back to complete a memorable 15-21, 21-12, 21-10 win in 52 minutes.
There was more delight for Indian badminton lovers in the men's singles category as former Commonwealth Games gold medallist Parupalli Kashyap made it to the second round. The 33-year-old was on song right from the start and upset the World No. 21 Sitthikom Thammasin of Thailand, 21-14, 21-13.
While Sai will next face the fourth seed Anders Antonsen, up next for Kashyap is seventh seed and former World No. 1 Viktor Axelsen.
In mixed doubles, the pair of Pranaav Jerry Chopra and N Sikki Reddy failed to cross the hurdle of Wang Chi-Lin and Cheng Chi Ya as they succumbed to a 14-21, 14-21 defeat in 31 minutes.