Promising shuttler Ashmita Chaliha registered one of the most significant results in her career so far as she defeated fifth seed and world No 28 Evgeniya Kosetskaya in straight games on the opening day of the India Open Super 500 event in Delhi on Tuesday.

The 22-year-old, currently ranked 84 in the world, won 24-22, 21-16 against the experienced Russian shuttler in the round of 32 at the KD Jadhav Indoor Hall as the tournament returned after a 33-month pandemic-enforced hiatus.

Double Olympic medallist PV Sindhu began her 2022 season in comfortable fashion, as she cruised past compatriot Sri Krishna Priya Kudaravalli 21-5 21-16 in her opening round. Sindhu will next play India’s Ira Sharma who defeated Egypt’s Hany Doha.

In men’s singles, world champion Loh Kean Yew was off to a slow start but recovered in time to defeat Canada’s Xiaodong Sheng 16-21, 21-4, 21-13 while top seed Srikanth defeated former junior world No. 1 Siril Verma 21-17, 21-10 to advance to the second round.

Chaliha, long considered to be a talent for the future but laid low by Covid-19 and tournament cancellations in the last couple of years, started brilliantly in the opening game to build a handy 13-8 lead at one stage but the European silver medallist fought back in style.

It was the Russian who sneaked ahead in the end to have as many as three game points as her experience came to the fore. But the left-hander from India showed great grit to save the game points and convert her first.

The second game was a relatively more comfortable affair for the Indian as she showed a great range of drop shots and smashes on her way to an impressive win in 31 mins.

Among other early winners on Tuesday were mixed doubles pairings of Dhruv Kapila and N Sikki Reddy, and Gayatri Gopichand Pullela and Sai Pratheek K. Both pairs won all-Indian affairs, albeit in contrasting fashion.

Chaliha began strong employing her down the line smashes to open up an 11-5 lead in the opening game and looked comfortable against the tall Russian. However, she began making a lot of errors after the break before recovering late. The second game followed a similar trajectory as Chaliha opened up an 11-4 lead only for the Russian to close in to 19-16. However, the Indian was more in control this time around and kept her cool under pressure to finish off the match in 31 minutes.

“I haven’t played a lot of matches in the last few years. So, I was nervous and that affected me midway in the opening game. But once I won the first game, I was more confident and so I was relaxed in the second game,” she said after the match.

She will now face France’s Yaelle Hoyaux who defeated Riya Mookerjee of India.

“It was a bit tough [the last two years], because we were only practising and there were no tournaments. It was torturing, because we wanted to compete more. After 2020, when I had to play a tournament in 2021, I got Covid. It was really sad, tournaments getting cancelled,” Chaliha added.

Admitting it was a bit nervous playing a tournament after so long, Chaliha said she was able to push through despite a wobble late in the first game.

“This is one of my biggest wins. I have played her before and lost in straight games at White Nights in the semifinals,” she added.

Training in the Assam academy, Ashmita has been busy in the recent days playing the national ranking tournaments. “Playing a tournament after a long time, I have not planned much for the future. For now my aim is to come into the top 50,” she added.

Chaliha will now face France’s Yaelle Hoyaux, who defeated India’s Riya Mookerjee 14-21 13-21.

In the other matches of the opening session, mixed doubles pair of K Sai Prateekh and Gayatri Gopichand defeated Ishaan Bhatnagar and Tanisha Castro 21-16 16-21 21-17. The men’s doubles top seeds Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan of Indonesia got their campaign off to a winning start by beating India’s Prem Singh Chouhan and Rajesh Verma 21-18 21-10.

It was curtains for Chirag Sen as he lost 8-21 7-21 to Soong Joo Ven of Malaysia in the men’s singles opening round.Srikanth will now face Denmark’s Kim Brunn, who defeated India’s Subhankar Dey 21-19, 18-21, 21-14 in one hour and 15 minutes.

Loh, who is playing his first tournament since clinching the world title, is looking to start from zero. The fifth seed clearly struggled to find his rhythm in the opening game and was seen talking to himself during the initial exchanges to try and push himself.

He never looked in control in that game but suddenly changed gears in the second game and raced to a 10-0 lead before dropping the first point of the game. In the decider, Sheng managed to keep pace with the Singaporean till 6-6 before Loh bagged 10 of the next 12 points to take control of the match.

Loh will face Malayasia’s Joo Ven Soong in the second round on Thursday.

“It’s a new start and I’m trying to start from zero again,” Loh told BWF. “I think I played a bit slow and he was controlling the momentum and everything. In the second game I tried to overcome that by picking up the pace and it worked.”

Asked if it has sunk in that he is the champion of the world, Loh said: “I want to forget about it already. I want to start from zero, start again and forget about it.”

In the women’s doubles first round encounter, former junior national champions Ritika Thaker and Simran Singh fought back after losing the opening game to beat Mariia Stoliarenko and Yelyzaveta Zharka of Ukraine 14-21, 22-20, 21-19 to advance to the second round.

In a battle of brothers, sixth seed Sameer Verma wasted little time in defeated Sourabh Verma, winning 21-7, 21-7 in 15 minutes. At the end of day one action, Kiran George went down in a clash of youngsters against Canada’s Brian Yang, one of the up and coming talents on world tour. The Indian had a game point in the opener but lost the match 22-20, 21-15.

Important results:

Women’s singles: 1-PV Sindhu bt Sri Krishna Priya Kudaravalli 21-5, 21-16; Ashmita Chaliha bt 5-Evgeniya Kosetskaya 24-22, 21-16; 3-Jia Min Yeo bt Disha Gupta 21-7, 21-10; 6-Supanida Katethong bt Rituparna Das 21-12, 21-7

Men’s singles: 1-K Srikanth bt Siril Verma 21-17, 21-10; Kim Brunn bt Subhankar Dey 21-19, 18-21, 21-14; Sergey Sirant bt June Wei Cheam 22-20, 21-18; 5-Loh Kean Yew bt Xiaodong Sheng 16-21, 21-4, 21-13, 6-Sameer Verma bt Sourabh Verma 21-7, 21-7

Men’s doubles: 1-Hendra Setiawan/Mohammad Ahsan bt Prem Singh Chouhan/Rajesh Verma 21-18, 21-10; 3-Ong Yew Sin/Teo Ee Yi bt Ravikrishna PS/Sankar Prasad Udayakumar 21-19, 21-14

Women’s doubles: 7-Treesa Jolly/Gayatri Gopichand bt Anastasiya Prozorova/Valeriya Rudakova 21-12, 21-10; Simran Singhi/Ritika Thaker bt Mariia Stoliarenko/Yelyzaveta Zharka 14-21, 22-20, 21-19

Mixed Doubles: 1-Tan Kian Meng/Lai Pei Jing bt Pratik Ranade/Kanika Kanwal 21-10, 21-11; 7-Dhruv Kapila/N Sikki Reddy bt Chirag Arora/Nishu Rapria 21-11, 21-11; K Sai Prateek/Gayatri Gopichand bt Ishan Bhatnagar/Tanisha Crasto 21-16, 16-21, 21-17

Results of all the matches here. On day 2, Saina Nehwal, Lakshya Sen, Satwik-Chirag, Ashwini-Sikki are in action in their first-round matches. Schedule here.