Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu advance; Srikanth crashes out of India Open
Srikanth was not the only top Indian male singles shuttler to lose as HS Prannoy and Ajay Jayaram also bowed out.
There were contrasting fortunes for the two defending singles champions at the $300,000 Yonex Sunrise India Open Superseries on Wednesday as Saina Nehwal advanced while Kidambi Srikanth exited in the first round. Joining Nehwal in the second round was the Malaysia Masters champion, PV Sindhu.
The second-seeded Saina put up a clinical performance to dismiss compatriot Tanvi Lad 21-7, 21-13 in a 34-minute battle at the Siri Fort Stadium. She will next face the 29th ranked Nitchaon Jindapol of Thailand for a place in the quarter-finals.
The 20-year-old Sindhu was equally impressive in her opening round and prevailed 21-8, 21-8 over Italian shuttler Jeanine Cicognini in just 18 minutes. She will next square off against the World No. 20 Busanan Ongbumrungphan.
Qualifier Rituparna Das also emerged victorious on Wednesday, posting a 21-18, 21-15 win over fellow qualifier Anura Prabhudesai. It set her up against the fourth seed Ratchanok Intanon in the next round.
Srikanth leads an exodus of Indian men’s singles shuttlers
World No. 10 Srikanth, meanwhile, was not so lucky as he suffered a heartbreaking loss at the hands of his nemesis, the seventh-ranked Tian Houwei of China. The 2016 All England Open runner-up had been Srikanth’s biggest stumbling block in 2015 and inflicted as many as five defeats before the Indian could turn the tables on him at the Badminton Asia Championships this February.
On Wednesday, Srikanth could not replicate that result and went down narrowly, 13-21, 21-17, 22-24 in a gritty 83-minute contest.
The newly-crowned Swiss Open champion HS Prannoy also departed from India’s only Superseries event as he succumbed to a 21-23, 21-18, 13-21 defeat to World No. 29 Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk. Ajay Jayaram too joined the exodus after a hard-fought 12-21, 21-13, 19-21 loss to the 16th ranked Marc Zwiebler.
B Sai Praneeth, who had famously upset the second seed Lee Chong Wei at the All England Open, failed to bring his magic and went down 20-22, 13-21 to Sony Dwi Kuncoro of Indonesia. Qualifier Sourabh Verma put up a great fight against the six-time All-England champion Lin Dan in the first game but eventually faded away to an 18-21, 9-21 loss.
Rising star and South Asian Games gold medallist Gadde Ruthvika Shivani had a tough proposition in her opening match as she faced the former World No. 1 and the 2016 All England runner-up Shixian Wang. The sixth seed was sharp and did not give the 19-year-old Indian any chance as she cruised to a 21-10, 21-14 victory in 35 minutes.
In mixed doubles, Pranaav Jerry Chopra and N Sikki Reddy registered a big win as they stunned the Korean World No. 12 pair of Solgyu Choi and Eom Hye Won, 21-17, 17-21, 21-14.