Top Indian shuttlers, including double Olympic medallist PV Sindhu and World Championships silver and bronze winners Kidambi Srikanth and Lakshya Sen, progressed to the second round of the German Open Super 300 in Muelheim An Der Ruhr on Tuesday.
London Olympics bronze medallist Saina Nehwal also made an impressive start at the $180,000 Super 300 badminton tournament after struggling with fitness issues due to injuries and illness in the last few months.
Seventh seed Sindhu trounced Thailand’s Busanan Ongbamrungphan 21-8 21-7 in a lop-sided contest after Srikanth, seeded 8th, saw off France’s world number 39 Brice Leverdez 21-10 13-21 21-7 in 48 minutes.
It was Sindhu’s 15th win over the world No 11 Thai player, while Srikanth too extended his head-to-head count over Leverdez to 4-0 after this victory.
Sindhu, a 2019 world champion, will meet 2021 World Championships bronze medallist China’s Zhang Yi Man next, while Srikanth will take on China’s Lu Guang Zu. It will be Sindhu’s first meeting on the tour. Srikanth, who was forced out of the India Open Super 500 event in January after testing positive for Covid-19, has a 2-0 head-to-head record against the Chinese, ranked 27th. He had defeated him at the round of 16 in Huelva.
Later in the day, Sen, who had claimed the India Open title in January, dished out a superb performance to outwit Thailand’s Kantaphon Wangcharoen 21-6 22-20. The first game was esepcially dominant from Lakshya as he made a tricky test against the world No 21 look straightforward. Lakshya will face a tough test against fourth seed Anthony Ginting. It will be their first meeting.
Saina, meanwhile, had to dig deep to stave off a challenge from Spain’s Clara Azurmendi with a 21-15 17-21 21-14 win. Nehwal had a dip in the second game and looked to be tiring in the decider but turned up the heat in the final stages, playing an aggressive style of badminton to make sure she entered the second round where Ratchanok Intanon awaits. It is one of the storied rivalries in badminton, with Nehwal leading 12-6 against the former world champion but the Thai star has been in much better recent form.
And finally, just like he did at the World Championships in Huelva last year, HS Prannoy won 21-14, 21-19 against seventh seed Angus Ng Ka Long of Hong Kong in the men’s singles round of 32. It was a brilliant performance in what was especially a high quality second game, which capped off a solid day for Indian badminton’s leading singles players.
In other results, Indonesian pair of Adnan Maulana and Mychelle Crhystine Bandaso ended the campaign of India’s Dhruv Kapila and Gayatri Gopichand with a 21-19 21-19 win, while Haritha Manazhiyil Harinarayanan and Ashna Roy were no match for Italian combination of Martina Corsini and Judith Mair, losing 9-21 10-21.
The mixed doubles pair of Sai Pratheek K and N Sikki Reddy endured a difficult time against top seeds Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai of Thailand, going down 19-21 8-21 in their opening match.
Later in the day, Treesa Jolly and MR Arjun lost their mixed doubles opener 9-21, 18-21 against France’s seventh seeds Delphine Delrue and Thom Gicquel. In another disappointing doubles result, Tanisha Crasto and Ishaan Bhatnagar lost their mixed doubles opener 19-21, 22-20, 9-21 against England’s Jenny Moore and Gregory Mairs, ranked outside the top 100.
Sindhu was playing in a different gear against Busanan, who failed to pose any threat to the Indian during the 32-minute match.
It was a complete domination from the Indian as she moved to 11-4 in no time and soon earned the bragging rights. The second game was also not too different as from 7-5, Sindhu marched ahead and shut the door on her rival without much ado.
Sindhu extended her brilliant record against Busanan, after winning their first 10 meetings, then losing one, and now once again on a five-match win streak.
In the men’s singles match, Srikanth looked in good touch as he zoomed from 6-6 to 19-8 in a jiffy and pocketed the opening game comfortably.
Leverdez made a roaring comeback in the second game as he dominated the proceeding and led from the start to finish, making it 1-1.
In the decider, Srikanth found his rhythm back as he made his way to 11-5 at the break and kept his nose ahead to jump to 18-7 before sealing it comfortably in the end.
On Wednesday, more first round action awaits the Indian shuttlers:
Inputs from PTI