World No 3 PV Sindhu was among six seeds who fell in the second round of the Hong Kong Open on Thursday, as she lost to Korea’s Sung Ji Hyun in straight games.
Kidambi Srikanth and Sameer Verma were the only Indians who advanced to the quarter-finals, on a day when HS Prannoy, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy/Ashwini Ponnappa and Manu Attri/Sumeeth Reddy also exited the tournament.
Fourth seeded Srikanth, who had claimed a silver medal at this year’s Commonwealth Games, had to dig deep in his reservoir to beat Prannoy in an all-Indian second-round clash. Srikanth came from behind to beat Prannoy 18-21, 30-29, 21-18 in a thrilling match, clocking an hour and seven minutes.
The match had a tight start, with both players level till 9-9, before Prannoy briefly pulled away. Srikanth fought back from 10-14 down to make it 15-15, before Prannoy again opened up a lead and won the first game by three points.
The second game was a cliffhanger as the duo played out of their skins, giving nothing away. The game went the maximum distance before it had to be decided by who reached 30 points first, which ended up being Srikanth.
In the decider, Srikanth continued his momentum, surging to a 11-4 lead at the interval. Prannoy caught up at 16-16 before Srikanth again moved ahead to seal the contest. Srikanth will face Japan’s Kenta Nishimoto, the eighth seed, in the quarters on Friday.
Sameer qualified for the quarters after his formidable opponent, Olympic champion Chen Long, pulled out of the competition due to injury. He will face local hope Lee Cheuk Yiu on Friday.
Sindhu’s loss, however, was a major upset despite not being a one-sided affair. The Indian had recovered from 13-18 down in the first game to make it 19-19, before the two players traded points till 24-24. Sung eventually won two straight points after that to take the lead in the match.
In the second game again, Sindhu fought back from 15-19 to make it 20-20 but could not force the match to go into a decider, as Sung wrapped it up 22-20.
Earlier, Satwik and Ashwini lost 17-21, 11-21 to Chinese Taipei’s Lee Yang and Hsu Ya Ching. Manu and Sumeeth then went down to the world No 16 pair Lee Yang and Lee Jhe-Huei 16-21, 15-21.