Japan Open 2017: Srikanth Kidambi and HS Prannoy reach quarter-finals as Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu exit
On a day of disappointment for the top Indian women shuttlers, the men kept the Tricolour flying as Srikanth Kidambi and HS Prannoy made it to the quarter-finals of the $325, 000 Japan Open Superseries in Tokyo. India also did well in doubles as the country’s No. 1 mixed doubles pair of N. Sikki Reddy and Pranaav Jerry Chopra too reached the last-eight stage.
Eighth-seeded Kidambi had it very easy against the tricky Hu Yun of Hong Kong, who is ranked 27th. The Indonesia Open and Australian Open champion needed just 29 minutes to dismiss Yun with a one-sided score of 21-12, 21-11.
The US Open champion HS Prannoy was equally impressive and staved off a late challenge from the World No. 26 Hsu Jen Hao for a 21-16, 23-21 win in exactly 1 hour.
Both have an uphill task in the quarter-finals. Srikanth faces the third seed and newly-crowned world champion Viktor Axelsen in his quest for a semi-final berth while Prannoy has to tackle the second-seeded Shi Yuqi of China up next.
But the two golden girls who shone at the Glasgow World Championships in August were shown the exit door in the second round. PV Sindhu failed to replicate her Korea Open final heroics over Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara and went down in straight games.
The Korea Open champion squandered an 11-9 lead in the first game to let the world champion come back and snatch it 21-18. In the second, she simply faded away as Okuhara raised her level and ran away to a 21-18, 21-8 win in front of her home crowd.
Saina Nehwal then faced the Olympic champion Carolina Marin. The two old rivals had not met in over a year but the result remained the same as the Indian succumbed to a 16-21, 13-21 defeat to the Spanish southpaw in 43 minutes.
Also departing from the tournament was Sameer Verma. On the day he achieved his career-best ranking of 21, Sameer could not hold on to his good start against the second-seeded Shi Yuqi and went down 21-10, 17-21, 15-21 in a marathon 65-minute second round contest.
Reddy and Chopra shine
For the second consecutive Superseries tournament, India has a representation in the doubles quarter-finals, which clearly demonstrates the improvement the Indian doubles shuttlers have made of late.
Sikki Reddy and Pranaav Jerry Chopra prevailed 21-13, 21-17 over the Japanese qualifying duo of Yuki Kaneko and Koharu Yonemoto to set up a quarter-final clash with Seung Jae Seo and Kim Ha Na of Korea.
But curtains came down on the campaign of Ashwini Ponnappa and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, who bowed out 27-29, 21-16, 12-21 in a gruelling encounter with the fourth seeds Praveen Jordan and Debby Susanto.