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Indonesia Masters 2019: Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu work hard to win; Kidambi Srikanth has it easy

FEATURED COLUMNIST
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453   //    23 Jan 2019, 21:44 IST

PV Sindhu
PV Sindhu

While PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal laboured to victory, Kidambi Srikanth registered a facile win as the first round action concluded at the Indonesia Masters 2019 in Jakarta on Wednesday.

The eighth-seeded Saina Nehwal, the runner-up at this tournament last year, bounced back from a slow start to record a 7-21, 21-16, 21-11 win over the World No. 50 Dinar Dyah Ayustine in 49 minutes. Saina began the season with a semi-final appearance at the Malaysia Masters last week and would be keen to build on it this week.

Nehwal next faces the newly-crowned Thailand Masters champion Fitriani Fitriani of Indonesia.

Sindhu beat Li Xuerui in a thriller

BWF World Tour Finals winner Sindhu had a tough task against the 2012 Olympic champion Li Xuerui which was one of the most awaited matches of the day. Sindhu and Xuerui met for the last time at the 2015 Denmark Open final which was won by the Chinese. With a head-to-head record of 3-2 over the Indian, Xuerui was always supposed to be a threat for the World No. 3.

The Chinese made her comeback to the international circuit only last year after being on the sidelines due to a severe knee injury she suffered at the Rio Olympics. In the eight events that she participated in, she triumphed in four.

She brought all those fighting qualities in her first round encounter with Sindhu, edging the Indian 24-22 in a very tight first game. The Rio Olympic silver medallist did rebound strongly in the second game and bagged it 21-8 with her array of aggressive shots.

Xuerui raced ahead to 3-0 in the decider but the Indian fought back to keep the scores level till 10-10. The former World No. 1 inched ahead to 13-10 but that could not deter her 23-year-old opponent. Sindhu once more displayed her resilience and tenacity to even the score at 17-17 and then ran away to victory.

Up next for Sindhu is former junior world champion Gregoria Mariska Tunjung of Indonesia.

Eighth seed Kidambi Srikanth had no hassles against Chong Wei Feng of Malaysia. The former World No. 1 blew away the Malaysian 21-12, 21-8 in just 29 minutes to set up a second round meeting with the tenth ranked Kenta Nishimoto.

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Former Commonwealth Games gold medallist Parupalli Kashyap lost to China Open champion Anthony Sinisuka Ginting for the second tournament in a row. The seventh seed beat Kashyap 21-12, 21-16 a week after his second round victory over the Indian at the Malaysia Masters.

Sai Praneeth bowed out 12-21, 16-21 to the fourth seed Chen Long. SaarLorLux Open winner Subhankar Dey displayed a lot of grit in taking a game off the former world champion Viktor Axelsen before the Dane came back to get a 21-14, 19-21, 21-15 win.

The men’s doubles pair of Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy was the lone bright spot for India in doubles on Wednesday. Attri and Reddy stormed back from a game down to get a 14-21, 21-19, 21-15 win over the higher-ranked Danish combine of Mads Pieler Kolding and Niclas Nohr.

Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy lost 14-21, 14-21 to the eighth seeds Jongkolphan Kititharakul and Rawinda Prajongjai of Thailand.

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FEATURED COLUMNIST
A freelance journalist based in Kolkata who is a diehard Rafael Nadal fan. She is also extremely passionate about India’s progress in sports and hopes to throw light on India’s unsung sports heroes through her articles. When not screaming her lungs out in support of her favourite sports stars, she can be seen reading, watching movies or immersed in planning her next travel destination!
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