Japan Open 2018: PV Sindhu, Kidambi Srikanth and HS Prannoy enter Round 2; Sameer Verma exits
The top Indian trio of PV Sindhu, Kidambi Srikanth and HS Prannoy made a winning start to their campaign at the Japan Open 2018 as the prestigious Super 750 tournament got under way in Tokyo, Japan on Tuesday. However, it was a struggle for Sindhu even as the men won their matches with consummate ease.
Sindhu is the third seed at this tournament and she faced the 13th ranked Sayaka Takahashi. The Japanese looked the stronger of the two for the first couple of games as Sindhu found it hard to find her rhythm. In the first game, a lethargic Sindhu trailed 8-16 before she made a stunning comeback to take the next 11 points and clinch the first game 21-17.
The World No. 3 failed to sustain that momentum in the second game and got thoroughly outplayed by her lower-ranked rival, losing it 7-21. Sindhu managed to steady the ship in the decider, where she opened up an 11-4 lead and kept building on it steadily to notch up a 21-17, 7-21, 21-13 win in 53 minutes.
Next up for Sindhu is World No. 14 Gao Fangjie, who beat India’s Vaishnavi Reddy Jakka 21-10, 21-8.
Sindhu is the only hope for India in women’s singles after Commonwealth Games gold medallist Saina Nehwal pulled out following her Asian Games outing, which gave her a bronze medal.
In men’s singles, Srikanth and Prannoy bounced back from shocking opening round defeats at the Asian Games to secure wins in straight games. Prannoy sent the Asian Games champion Jonatan Christie packing out of the tournament with a 21-18, 21-17 win.
Seventh seed Srikanth needed 33 minutes to get the better of China’s Huang Yuxiang 21-13, 21-15.
While Prannoy next takes on Anthony Sinisuka Ginting, Srikanth meets Wong Wing Ki Vincent -- the very player who beat the Indian at the Asian Games.
Hyderabad Open champion Sameer Verma rebounded from losing the first game to take the second, but could not keep it going in the decider as he went down fighting 18-21, 22-20, 10-21 to Korea’s Lee Dong Keun.
In mixed doubles, Indian pairs had mixed fortunes. World Championships quarter-finalists Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Ashwini Ponnappa bowed out to the second seeds Wang Yilyu and Huang Dongping 10-21, 19-21.
Pranaav Jerry Chopra and N Sikki Reddy, who had a narrow loss in the final of the Hyderabad Open, thoroughly dominated their first round match against Mathew Fogarty and Isabel Zhong before prevailing 21-9, 21-6 in just 22 minutes.