Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth made their way into the quarter-finals of the Orleans Masters 2021 in contrasting styles on Thursday. While the men's singles top seed Srikanth cruised to a 21-17, 22-20 win over Cheam June Wei, fourth-seeded Nehwal had to dig deep for an 18-21, 21-15, 21-10 win over Marie Batomene.
Rising star Ira Sharma too joined them in the last-eight, as she notched up a 21-18, 21-13 win over Bulgaria's Mariya Mitsova.
Nehwal came to the Orleans Masters after having to retire midway through her first-round match at the All England Open last week. A hip injury cut short her journey in Birmingham, and there were question marks over her form and fitness at this BWF Super 100 tournament.
But Nehwal has been able to dispel those doubts with a strong showing at the Orleans Masters so far. Having begun her campaign with a commanding 21-9, 21-5 win against Rachael Darragh, the former World No. 1 gave a sheer exhibition of her fighting spirit against Marie Batomene.
Nehwal will next take on World No. 36 Iris Wang in her quest for a spot in the semi-finals. The London Olympics bronze medallist is on course to meet Ira Sharma in the last-four stage, should the young Indian overcome World No. 38 Line Christophersen.
Srikanth, the last Indian standing in Orleans Masters men's singles draw
Looking to bounce back after a first-round exit at the All England Open, Kidambi Srikanth is now the only Indian left in the Orleans Masters men's singles draw. The former top-ranked player will next take on the winner of the third-round match between Toma Junior Popov and Philip Illum Klindt.
While Srikanth progressed smoothly, both Chirag Sen and Kiran George fell by the wayside. George was bundled out 21-15, 14-21, 21-19 by French veteran Brice Leverdez in a marathon match lasting 1 hour and 3 minutes.
Chirag, too, fought hard but ultimately fell short in a 21-14, 9-21, 17-21 defeat to third seed Hans-Kristian Solberg Vittinghus of Denmark.
Double delight for India in men's doubles at Orleans Masters
India tasted success in the doubles too on Day 3 of the Orleans Masters. Men's doubles seventh seeds Dhruv Kapila and MR Arjun pummeled England's Rory Easton and Zach Russ 21-11, 21-12 to reach the quarters.
They were joined by Krishna Prasad Garaga and Vishnu Vardhan Goud Panjala, who showed the door to Denmark's Kristian Hoholdt Kraemer and Marcus Rindshoj 21-7, 21-13.