India’s top badminton stars Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu registered contrasting wins to advance to the second round of the Badminton Asia Championship in Wuhan, China, on Wednesday. Joining them in the round of 32 stage was Sameer Verma while two mixed doubles pairs and one women’s doubles combination were knocked out in the first round.
In a major upset, though, Kidambi Srikanth, seeded fifth, was knocked out in the first round after going down 16-21, 20-22 to Indonesia’s Shesar Rhustavito.
Sindhu needed just 28 minutes to pack off Japan’s Sayaka Takahashi 21-14, 21-7 while Nehwal fought back from a game down to beat local girl Yue Han 12-21, 21-11, 21-17 in the opening round.
Sindhu will now face Indonesian qualifier Choirunnisa, who got the better of Malaysia’s Lee Ying Ying 21-17, 21-15.
While Sindhu had it easy, Nehwal looked like she was struggling for the second consecutive time against Han, having lost to the Chinese in the final of the Syed Modi international last year. However, the 2012 London Olympics bronze medallist found a way to dominate the youngster in the next two games and set up a second round clash against Kim Ga Eun of Korea.
Later in the day, Verma recovered well from a second game blip to get the better of Japan’s Kazumasa Sakai 21-13, 17-21, 21-18 in an hour and seven minutes.
Verma, who had eased through the opening game, looked good to clinch the match in straight games when he opened up a 12-9 lead in the second before Sakai claimed 10 of the next 12 points to turn the tables on the Indian.
In the decider, Verma scripted his own fightback from a 13-9 deficit to first level the scores at 13-13 and then bagged five consecutive points from 13-15 down to gain the upper hand and went on to win the match. He will next face Hong Kong’s NG Ka Long Angus, who upset sixth seed Anthony Ginting of Indonesia 21-18, 18-21, 25-23.
While it has been a good outing for the singles players so far, Indian shuttlers struggled in the paired events with the mixed doubles combinations of Saurabh Sharma and Anoushka Parikh going down 21-9, 21-9 against fourth seeds Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai of Thailand, Rohan Kapoor and Kuhoo Garg losing to Indonesia’s Praveen Jordan and Melati Oktavianti 21-5, 21-15.
There was disappointment in the women’s doubles section as well with J Meghana and Poorvisha S Ram going down 21-13, 21-16 against Jongkolphan Kititharakul and Rawinda Prajongjai of Thailand.