Hong Kong Open: PV Sindhu enters quarter-finals; Saina Nehwal, HS Prannoy exit
2016 runner-up PV Sindhu remains the last Indian standing as both Saina Nehwal and HS Prannoy crashed out of the $400,000 Yonex-Sunrise Hong Kong Open Superseries in Kowloon, Hong Kong on Thursday. Second seed Sindhu needed 39 minutes to dismiss the challenge of the 13th ranked Aya Ohori, 21-14, 21-17 on her way to the quarter-finals.
The 22-year-old has a tough task up next as she meets the fifth seed and China Open champion Akane Yamaguchi for a place in the semi-finals. Sindhu lost her last showdown with the Japanese in straight games in the semi-finals of the French Open.
Former champion Saina Nehwal and World No. 10 HS Prannoy squandered a one-game lead each to exit the tournament in the second round, thus ending their chances of qualifying for the World Superseries Finals to be held in Dubai next month.
Prannoy needed two wins for Dubai spot
HS Prannoy would be left to rue his missed opportunity. The draw had opened up for the World No. 10 after the world champion Viktor Axelsen pulled out of the tournament, citing an infection in his right little toe.
Even the seventh seeded Chou Tien Chen -- Prannoy’s possible quarter-final opponent -- made a first round exit, leaving the Kerala shuttler as the highest ranked player in his quarter. Prannoy only needed to win a couple of matches and reach the semi-finals to secure that much-coveted Dubai spot.
And he began his second round match against the 23rd ranked Kazumasa Sakai in scintillating fashion, dropping just 11 points to clinch the opener, 21-11. Just when it looked like he might get his first win in three meetings over the Japanese, Sakai stormed back spectacularly to grab the second game, 21-10.
Sakai was in the lead for the entirety of the decider and never relinquished control of the game. The closest Prannoy came to his opponent was when he trailed Sakai 11-13. The latter then wrapped up the 11-21, 21-10, 21-15 second round win in 54 minutes.
World No. 10 Nehwal too needed to win her match to have any chance of qualifying for the World Superseries Finals. The former top-ranked shuttler began brilliantly and was the better player for the first couple of games. But she simply ran out of steam once the eighth ranked Chen Yufei raised her level and sailed to an 18-21, 21-19, 21-10 victory in 1 hour 1 minute.