Saina Nehwal posted a second come-from-behind win against Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara in less than a week, this time at the French Open Super 750 tournament in Paris on Thursday to book her passage to the quarter-finals.
The unseeded Indian defeated eighth seed Okuhara with a 10-21, 21-14, 21-17 win in a match that lasted 72 minutes.
It will be a repeat of the Denmark Open final in the quarter-finals for Nehwal as world No 1 Tai Tzu Ying awaits.
In an earlier match, Srikanth Kidambi also had to come back from a game down against Korea’s Lee Dong Keun. Fifth seed Srikanth won 12-21, 21-16 21-18 in a see-saw encounter to progress to the last eight as well.
The big surprise of the day, and a great one for India, was Manu Atri and Sumeeth Reddy’s win over former world champions Liu Cheng and Zhang Nan of China. Manu and Sumeeth beat the world No 3 pair 21-14, 21-16 to continue with their impressive form. They will now take on Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy in an all-Indian quarter-final on Friday.
Nehwal had, last week, defeated Okuhara in the quarter-finals of the Denmark Open with a gritty 17-21, 21-16, 21-12 in Odense to end a run of three straight defeats against the Japanese.
This time around, Okuhara blew Nehwal out of water in the first game to wrap it up 21-10 in next to no time. But, the Indian found her footing from the second game onward. She won six straight points from 4-4 and to open up a 10-4 advantage and from thereon, kept Okuhara at an arm’s length. The Indian won the second game 21-14 to force the decider.
And similar to the second game, Nehwal pulled away after a tight start. She opened up a 4-point lead at 9-5 and did not look back from there despite Okuhara threatening to close the gap.
She eventually converted the first of her three match points to post another memorable win.
Srikanth survives scare
The Indian No 1, who had lost his both his previous two meetings against Korea’s Lee, started well with seven straight points from 0-2 to open up a 7-2 lead in the opening game. But from there Srikanth gave away too many easy points to the world No 23 and deservedly lost the first game 12-21.
However, he recovered well after that and made the Korean work and move around, while sharpening his own accuracy.
He led from the start to end pretty much (except for one point) in the second game to wrap it up 21-16 and forced the decider.
The third game was a mighty tight affair. Before the final change of ends, at which point Srikanth had a 11-8 lead, the lead had already exchanged hands four times. And, just when it seemed the Indian will cross the finish line comfortably at 18-15, Lee fought back to make it 18-18 once again. But Srikanth won three straight points to eventually close the match out.
And like Nehwal, Srikanth also faces the world No 1 in the quarter-final. In a repeat of the Denmark Open semifinal, Srikanth will face Kento Momota.
Later in the day, third seed PV Sindhu recorded a straight-games win over unseeded Sayaka Sato to join Srikanth and Nehwal in the quarterfinals. Sindhu needed just 46 minutes to record a 21-17, 21-16 win against Sato. It was a clincal performance from the newly promoted world no. 2. Sindhu will face the winner of He Bingjao versus Sung ji Hyun.
In the adjacent court to Sindhu, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty defeated a higher ranked pair from China (Jiting and Qiang, world No 16) in straight games 21-13, 21-19.
Meghana Jakkampudi and Poorvisha Ram bowed out of the tournament after a 15-21, 13-21 defeat against world No 3 pairing of Apriyani Rahayu and Greysia Polii from Indonesia.