In a tale of contrasting fortunes for two of India’s top shuttlers, Saina Nehwal hardly broke a sweat to enter the second round of the Korea Open 2018, but Sameer Verma crashed out of this Super 500 tournament in Seoul, Korea on Wednesday.
Nehwal is seeded fifth at this tournament and she truly lived up to her seeding. She needed 40 minutes to prevail over the 39th ranked Kim Hyo Min 21-12, 21-11. The former World No. 1 was hardly ever troubled by the Korean. After setting up an early lead, the Indian never conceded it and had a strong finish.
The win came on a day when news broke out about the impending wedding of Nehwal and fellow shuttler, Parupalli Kashyap. The two are set to tie the knot in December after courting for a decade.
Even though Nehwal has won the Commonwealth Games gold medal this year, she is yet to taste success on the BWF circuit. Saina’s best result in 2018 on the BWF World Tour has been a runner-up finish at the Indonesia Masters in January.
Saina opted for rest after the Asian Games and skipped the Japan Open. She returned to action at last week’s China Open, where she could not cross the first hurdle. Needing more match play, she decided to play in Korea, even as Kidambi Srikanth pulled out.
The World No. 10 was left the last Indian standing at this tournament after the losses suffered by Sameer Verma and Vaishnavi Reddy Jakka.
The Swiss Open champion had a tough encounter against the 17th ranked Anders Antonsen. The Indian, who is tied 1-1 in the head-to-head meetings with the Dane, clinched the first game. Antonsen rebounded from that and eventually notched up a 15-21, 21-16, 21-7 win in 59 minutes.
The talented youngster, Jakka found the sixth seed Beiwen Zhang an insurmountable barrier and succumbed to a 10-21, 9-21 defeat.
A day earlier, former India No. 1 Ajay Jayaram had gone down 24-26, 18-21 to World No. 63 Zhao Junpeng of China.