Hong Kong Open: Saina Nehwal fights hard to secure a berth in the quarter-finals
Nehwal won this tournament in 2010.
Coming back from a knee surgery is never easy. What one needs is plenty of time on the court to get back the feel of competitive matches.
Currently, Saina Nehwal is getting a lot of that at the 2016 Hong Kong Open Superseries which is just her second tournament since the surgery-induced lay-off. She is not only getting back into the thick of things but the fighting matches are also helping her to rediscover her champion’s mentality as was evident on Thursday at this tournament.
The 2010 champion, seeded fifth, played a poor second game but got back into the groove just in time to post a 21-18, 9-21, 21-16 win over the 14th ranked Sayaka Sato of Japan. The match lasted 51 minutes.
She is now into the quarter-finals where she will meet the winner of the contest between Nitchaon Jindapol and Cheung Ngan Yi.
Nehwal started off well and broke away from 11-11 to build a 14-12 lead which she extended to 17-12. Even though Sato did close the gap to 18-20, Nehwal was able to grab the opener, 21-18.
The second game was the exact opposite of the first. The Indian was on the backfoot right from the start, trailing 4-11 and Sato levelled the contest in no time.
In the decider, the champion in Saina awoke and she made a blazing start. The former World No. 1 led 7-1 and at the mid-game interval, she was ahead 11-8.
On resumption, the Japanese fought back to make it 11-12 before the Indian was successful in warding her off for 20-15 to have five match points in hand of which she converted the second one.
Sameer Verma wins, HS Prannoy exits
There were mixed fortunes for the Indian shuttlers competing in men’s singles. While Sameer Verma secured a quarter-final spot, HS Prannoy had to bite the dust.
Verma came back from a game down to produce a 19-21, 21-15, 21-11 win over Japan’s World No. 52 Kazumasa Sakai in 53 minutes.
Prannoy too battled hard but a win eluded him in the end. He squandered a one-game lead to go down 21-15, 11-21, 15-21 to Malaysia’s Chong Wei Feng.
Later in the day, PV Sindhu and Ajay Jayaram will be in action.