The top Indian shuttlers had contrasting fortunes as the first round action continued at the Hong Kong Open 2018 in Kowloon, Hong Kong on Wednesday. While PV Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth progressed into the second round, Saina Nehwal suffered a narrow three-game defeat to World No. 2 Akane Yamaguchi.
Third seed and two-time runner-up PV Sindhu was made to work hard by the 14th ranked Nitchaon Jindapol of Thailand. But for the third consecutive time, the World No. 3 managed to stave off the Thai challenge in three games to secure a 21-15, 13-21, 21-17 win in 61 minutes. Up next for the India No. 1 women’s singles shuttler is former World No. 2 Sung Ji Hyun of Korea.
Saina Nehwal failed to join the Rio Olympic silver medallist in the Round of 16 after going down 21-10, 10-21, 19-21 to the second seed and World No. 2 Akane Yamaguchi in 52 minutes.
Nehwal, who beat the Japanese in their last encounter in Denmark, recovered from a poor start to snatch the lead in the first game. From 0-3 down, she raced ahead to 8-5 before totally dominating the rest of the game.
Having been outplayed by the French Open champion in the next game, Nehwal looked slow in the initial stages of the decider as she trailed 3-6. She soon summoned all her fighting spirit to draw level at 8-8 and the game continued to be on level terms until 19-19 when Yamaguchi made an effort to grab the win.
Sameer Verma wins as well
The fourth-seeded Kidambi Srikanth never relented and pulled off an effortless 21-11, 21-15 win over Hong Kong’s Wong Wing Ki Vincent in a commanding performance. Srikanth can meet HS Prannoy next, provided the Indian national champion manages to get past World No. 19 Anders Antonsen in his first round match to be held later on Wednesday.
2016 runner-up Sameer Verma too made a fine start to his campaign when he took 40 minutes to beat Suppanyu Avihingsanon of Thailand 21-17, 21-14. But B Sai Praneeth squandered a one-game lead to go down 21-16, 11-21, 15-21 to World No. 15 Khosit Phetpradab.
2014 Commonwealth Games champion Parupalli Kashyap had an early lead against the World No. 7 Anthony Sinisuka Ginting but could not sustain the momentum, which resulted in a 16-21, 13-21 loss.
The India No. 1 men’s doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty had a tough opener against the former World No. 1 pair of Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen. Even though the Indians fought valiantly, they were denied a win by the experienced Danes, who came through 21-19, 23-21 in 46 minutes.
National champions Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy beat the Thai combine of Bodin Isara and Maneepong Jongjit 21-12, 21-18. But Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy fell 21-18, 10-21, 8-21 to the reigning Olympic champions Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi.