India’s campaign at the Denmark Open badminton tournament got off to a mixed start as world No 3 PV Sindhu was knocked out in the first round by USA’s Beiwen Zhang on Tuesday in Odense while Saina Nehwal fought back from a game down before saving two match points to progress.
Later in the day, Sameer Verma pulled off a massive upset by defeating world No 2 Shi Yuqi in straight games.
World No 10 Zhang beat Sindhu for the second time this year, after the final of the India Open in February. The American won 21-17, 16-21, 21-18 after 56 minutes.
Sindhu got off to a poor start as she committed one too many errors in the first game. After conceding a 7-14 lead, there was a brief period on either side of the interval where it looked like Sindhu would turn it around, as she closed the gap to 15-17, but the Indian could not hold on.
It was a much better performance from Sindhu in the second game. She looked more in control and was aided by Zhang’s unforced errors towards the end. After forcing the match into a decider, all she had to do was make sure she took an early lead in the final game and not let Zhang put pressure on her.
Sindhu did manage to take the lead in the initial stages of the decider, even opening up a 12-8 lead at one point. However, the American was superb with her back-hand cross-court drops and also targeted Sindhu’s body with smashes, as she snatched the lead and went on to take the game 21-18 to close out the match.
Saina survives scare
In the other women’s first round match world No 11 Nehwal was stretched by Hong Kong’s Ngan yi Cheung in a match that lasted 81 minutes. Nehwal had to fight back from a game down and then save a couple of match points in the decider before eventually triumphing 20-22, 21-17, 24-22. Nehwal was off to a sluggish start in the opener, with Cheung taking a 20-17 lead.
Nehwal fought back to save those three game points before losing the first game. The second game was more straight forward for the India. In the third game, Nehwal had the lead for most part but it was Cheung’s turn to fight back and take a late 19-17 lead. Nehwal won three points in a row to have a match point which was saved. She converted her second opportunity to seal her progress to the second round where she will face second seed Akane Yamaguchi. Nehwal has a 1-6 head-to-head against the Japan shuttler and has lost six in a row.
Sameer was the big winner of the day as he stunned third seed and China’s No 1 Shi Yuqi 21-17, 21-18 in 44 minutes to record a brilliant result. This is Sameer’s first win against Shi in three attempts.
In the day’s late match, K Srikanth got his campaign off to a comfortable start, defeating Hans-Kristian Vittinghus in straight games. After an even first game, he had 10 match points in the second but needed only one to wrap up the first round match 21-16 21-10 in just 35 minutes.
Srikanth set up a second-round clash with the legendary Lin Dan. Srikanth has lost three of his four matches against Dan but the Chinese great is not the force he once was. The former world number one is now placed 14th in the international rankings. The last time Sriknath beat Dan was in 2014 at the China Open.
If Srikanth manages to get past Dan and Sameer Verma overcomes Asian Games gold-medallist Jonathan Christie, it will be an all-Indian quarterfinal in the bottom half of the men’s singles draw.
Satwiksairaj and Ashwini Ponnappa bowed out of the mixed doubles first round 17-21, 18-21 against Seung Jae and Yujung.
Manu Attri-Sumeeth Reddy went down fighting against the World No 6 pairing of Astrup and Rasmussen, lose the first round match 23-25, 21-18, 16-21.