The Indian badminton brigade produced another mixed set of results on Day 3 of the ongoing Orleans Masters 2021 tournament.
Olympic-aspiring top shuttlers Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth dispatched their first-round opponents handily. However, others like HS Prannoy and Parupalli Kashyap went down fighting at the Super 100 event.
Former World No.1 Saina Nehwal has made a sensational return from the injury which forced her to retire from the All England Open last week. She bossed the rallies with aggressive intent and delicate netplay to race to a 21-9, 21-5 victory.
She will next compete against Marie Batomene of France in the pre-quarter-finals on Thursday.
With the cut-off date fast approaching, a lot is at stake for Saina in the coming few months. Slipped to a world ranking of 19, the London Olympics bronze medalist has been struggling to regain her form over the past few years.
Seeded fourth at the Orleans Masters 2021, Saina was the lone Indian to receive direct entry into the women's singles draw.
Kidambi Srikanth also sails into the pre-quarter-finals of the Orleans Masters 2021
Looking to put behind the disappointment of his dismal performance at the All England Open, Kidambi Srikanth looked in fine form against compatriot Ajay Jayaram.
Former World No.1 Srikanth was quick to get off the blocks against former Dutch Open champion Ajay. Banking on his quick returns, Srikanth ensured that he barely gave Ajay enough time to react before closing the match at 21-15, 21-10 in a 25-minute battle.
He will square off against Malaysia's Cheam Jun Wei in the pre-quarter-finals of the Orleans Masters 2021 event.
Meanwhile, high-flying Indian youngster Kiran George held his nerves to beat seventh-seed HS Prannoy 13-21, 21-16, 23-21 in a thrilling 59-minute marathon. High on confidence after a first-round win against Mark Caljouw, Kiran reveled in his wonderful exhibition of skills that had Prannoy confused and stranded.
Indian women's doubles pair of Ashwini Ponnappa and N. Sikki Reddy sailed into the quarter-finals after receiving a bye in their second round encounter against Indonesia's Kusuma-Pratiwi duo. Ashwini-Sikki advanced to the second round after registering a hard fought 21-9, 17-21, 21-19 win over Danish pair of Amalie Magelund and Freja Ravn.
Schedule for the singles pre-quarterfinals of the Orleans Masters 2021
Chirag Sen vs Hans Vittinghus
Kiran George vs Brice Leverdez
Kidambi Srikanth vs Cheam Jun Wei
Saina Nehwal vs Marie Batomene