Friday turned out to be a disastrous day for Indian shuttlers at the $120,000 Macau Open Grand Prix Gold with none of them managing to move out of the quarter-finals. Top seed Saina Nehwal was the first one to tumble out after a 12-21, 17-21 loss to the 226th ranked Zhang Yiman of China.
All hopes were then pinned on the 37th ranked B Sai Praneeth, who had looked quite impressive in his first three matches and had not even conceded a game. But Praneeth absolutely faded away after losing the first game and ended his campaign with a 19-21, 9-21 defeat to the 125th ranked Chinese Zhao Jun Peng in just 30 minutes.
With the twin losses, the Indian challenge comes to an end at the Macau Open.
Three-time women’s singles defending champion PV Sindhu had pulled out of this year’s edition, citing fatigue after reaching back-to-back finals at the China Open and the Hong Kong Open. She also needed to rest before making her maiden appearance at the prestigious Dubai World Superseries Finals this month, thus leaving Saina as the only Indian in women’s singles.
On Friday, Sai Praneeth started off well, building a 4-1 lead only to see the Chinese coming back to make it 7-7. The game continued to be a gritty affair with the lead rotating between the two. Sai had an 11-10 advantage at the mid-game interval and even regained a slender lead of 18-17 towards the business end of the opener.
But he could not hold on to it and the Chinese quickly surged to 20-18 and converted his second game point to eke out the first game, 21-19.
It proved to be a difficult setback to recover from for the Indian, who could never produce the same fight again in the second game. Zhao raced out to 11-4 as Sai started looking a pale shadow of the player who toppled the fifth seed Wong Wing Ki Vincent in the second round.
The Indian soon found himself trailing by a huge margin at 8-17. It was then only a matter of a few minutes before the lower-ranked Chinese closed out the big win.Published 02 Dec 2016, 22:44 IST