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Swiss Open: Saina cruises into second round

Basel: Saina Nehwal was stuck with the familiar role of carrying India’s flag after several of her compatriots faltered on the second day of the Swiss Open GP Gold.

The world No.4, who is looking to defend her title here, outclassed old foe Sayaka Sato with a degree of ease, 21-13 21-8, to set up a second round fight against Dutch veteran Judith Meulendijks.

The only Indians to progress along with her were the recent Austrian Open champions Rupesh Kumar and Sanave Thomas. The men’s doubles duo had to battle a minefield against the Dutch team of Koen Ridder/ Ruud Bosch as they scrambled to a 21-18 19-21 24-22 victory.

All the other Indians bit the dust. Indian national champion Sourabh Verma, after a sensational defeat of Hong Kong’s Wing Ki Wong, fell unexpectedly to Korean Shon Wan Ho, 21-10 21-9. Parupalli Kashyap and Ajay Jayaram, both seeking Olympic ranking points for the lone Indian spot in the Olympics, couldn’t progress either. Kashyap was unlucky to draw the seventh seed Vietnamese Nguyen Tien Minh and went down 21-13 21-18, while Jayaram would’ve expected to get past Portugal’s Pedro Martins, but was found wanting in a 21-16 21-16 defeat.

Jwala Gutta lost both her doubles matches – the women’s doubles, with Ashwini Ponnappa, to Japanese third seeds Mami Naito/ Shizuka Matsuo 16-21 21-18 21-10 and the mixed doubles, with V Diju, to another Japanese pair, Shoji Sato/ Shizuka Matsuo 21-13 21-15.

Saina’s young compatriot and recently-crowned national champion PV Sindhu gave a good account of herself but could not get past the wily Dutch veteran Yao Jie as she faltered eventually, 21-18 18-21 21-19.

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