Rising young women’s doubles pairing of Gayatri Gopichand and Treesa Jolly produced an impressive opening round win at the Malaysia Open Super 1000 event in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday.
Otherwise it was an opening day of the 2023 BWF World Tour season to forget for Indian shuttlers as the likes of Srikanth Kidambi and Saina Nehwal went down in the round of 32.
Both former world No 1s suffered defeats in the opening round, with Srikanth losing in straight games against Kenta Nishimoto of Japan while Nehwal went down in three games against China’s Han Yue.
In women’s doubles round of 32, CWG 2022 bronze medallists Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand – currently ranked 16 in the world – came up with a solid win against Hong Kong’s Yeung Nga Ting and Yeung Pui Lam, ranked 28 in the world.
The opening game was a thrilling battle as the Hong Kong pair fought back in the second half to even lead at three different points. But the Indians held their nerve to take the lead. And from there, the controlled proceedings to win 21-19, 21-14 in 34 minutes.
They will next face Stoeva sisters in the second round who pulled off a big upset defeating world No 6 Thinaah Muralitharan and Pearly Tan.
Srikanth had his moments for a game and a half against world No 17 Kenta Nishimoto but the Japanese shuttler’s strong defence and more consistent game paid off in the end as he won 21-19, 21-14 in 42 minutes.
Taking on one of China’s best at the moment, Saina Nehwal fought back from a game down showing her typical grit and determination in the second game to force a decider. But Han opened a big lead in the third game at the start and went on to win 12-21, 21-17, 21-12 in 43 minutes.
Also losing on the opening day was Aakarshi Kashyap. The world No 32 was blown away by world No 23 Wen Chi Hsu from Taipei 10-21, 8-21 in just 26 minutes.
In men’s doubles, Krishna Prasad Garaga and Vishnuvardhan Goud Panjala went down in straight games Kang Min Hyuk and Seo Seung Jae. The Koreans, ranked No 18, went down 10-21, 18-21.
On day two of the tournament, PV Sindhu will return to action for the first time since the Birmingham Commonwealth Games after recovering from her injury. And in a familiar sight now, HS Prannoy will take on Lakshya Sen in a battle of India’s two top men’s singles shuttlers. Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty also kickstart their 2023 season on Wednesday.
Read more in our preview here and schedule for day two will be available here.