Saina Nehwal once again suffered a reversal against world number 4 Akane Yamaguchi while national champion HS Prannoy seemed to have struggled with his recovery after a gruelling first round encounter and was knocked out in the second round of the China Super Series Premier on Thursday.
Nehwal, on a high after winning the senior national title last week by beating Olympic silver medallist PV Sindhu, once again struggled to match the pace of Yamaguchi to go down 21-18, 21-11 in just 37 minutes.
The world number 11 Indian began on a strong note, pushing Yamaguchi with her attacking tosses and court coverage but the Japanese youngster time and again caught Nehwal on the right hand corner to pick quick points.
Nehwal, however, looked determined to counter that game plan and it looked like the Indian could reverse the three-match losing streak against Yamaguchi when she took a 17-14 lead in the opening game. But the Japanese shuttler simply stepped on the accelerator and began finding some improbable angles for her drops and smashes to pick seven of the next eight points to pocket the first game.
The second game was a one-sided affair with Yamaguchi simply tearing apart Saina’s defence as the 27-year-old Indian was clearly struggling to handle the pace and precision of her opponent.
Before the start of today’s match, Saina trailed Yamaguchi one to three in head-to-head record with their three previous results going in the Japanese favour and the trend continued. Saina, thus, suffered her fourth defeat – three of them in last one month – against Yamaguchi this year.
On the adjacent court, compatriot HS Prannoy was also knocked out after losing 21-19 21-17 against world number 53 Lee Cheuk Yiu of Hong Kong.
The world number 11 had already complained about the scheduling on social media after it was clear that he would have to be back on court in just 13 hours after playing his first round match. He managed to save three game points in the opening game but clearly ran out of steam in the second.
The encounter started with both Prannoy and Lee exchanging quick early points before the Hong Kong shuttler raced to a two-point lead. Prannoy tried to stage a comeback but Lee took an 11-9 lead at the interval. After the break, Prannoy tried hard to shift the momentum but never really managed to achieve that as Lee took the first game 21-19. Prannoy played his heart out and took a slender one-point lead (11-10) at the break in the second game.
But after the break, exhaustion seemed to have caught up Prannoy as the Indian struggled, enabling Lee to make a comeback and finally wrap up the contest 21-17.