PV Sindhu began her $4,00,000 Hong Kong Open Super 500 campaign on a positive note with a 21-15, 21-16 victory against world No 19 Kim Ga Eun on what was a mixed day for Indian shuttlers.
Sindhu, HS Prannoy, Sourabh Verma and Parupalli Kashyap made it to the round of 16 of their respective draws while five other matches featuring Indians ended in defeats. Srikanth Kidambi had received a bye and will face Verma in the round of 16. Saina Nehwal, B Sai Praneeth, Sameer Verma, Sikki Reddy-Ashwini Ponnappa and Satwiksairaj-Chirag Shetty tasted defeats in the round of 32.
Having defeated quite a few top 10 pairs themselves recently, newly promoted world No 7 Satwik and Chirag were eliminated by No 14 Hoki and Kobayashi from Japan in the opening round. The Indians lost 21-17, 16-21, 17-21 in a 62-minute match.
Earlier, the reigning world champion Sindhu needed just 36 minutes to dispatch her Korean opponent and make her way to the quarter-finals. The Olympic silver medallist will face Thailand’s Busanan Ongbamrungphan next.
There was more cheer for Indian badminton as HS Prannoy safely negotiated his opening round match as well.
The 27-year-old, who was ill with dengue recently, defeated China’s Huang Yu Xiang 21-17, 21-17. Prannoy will now face 6th seed Jonatan Christie of Indonesia in the round of 16.
Meanwhile, Saina Nehwal suffered yet another first-round exit as she lost to China’s Cai Yan Yan on Wednesday. This was her second consecutive straight-games loss to Cai after losing to her at the China Open last month.
With the 13-21, 20-22 loss to Cai, Nehwal has now suffered five opening-round exits in the last six tournaments. The only tournament where she progressed beyond the first hurdle was at the French Open where she reached the quarter-finals last month.
India had another setback as Sameer Verma was also knocked out in the men’s singles after he lost 11-21, 21-13, 8-21 against Wang Tzu Wei.
In women’s doubles, too, India’s Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy were knocked out in the round of 32 by Denmark’s Maiken Fruergaard and Sara Thygesen. Ponnappa and Reddy lost 21-13, 21-12 in 36 minutes.
In the women’s singles match, Cai began on an aggressive note and gave little chance to Nehwal in the first game. The Indian shuttler did begin the second game on a confident note and even took the lead in the early stages of the game.
Nehwal was leading Cai 19-18 and looked good to force a decider but the world number 22 Cai came back to win the game 22-20 and wrap up the match in 30 minutes.
World No 6 Sindhu, still looking for a title after her gold in Basel, moved to a 8-4 lead early on but Kim managed to turn the tables, holding a 11-10 advantage at the breather. The Indian then reeled off six points at 13-13 to march ahead and seal the opening game.
The second game was no different as Sindhu again broke off at 5-5, grabbing seven points on the trot to move to a massive 12-5 lead. The Indian kept moving ahead and eventually shut the door comfortably on her opponent.
Sameer managed to take one game away from the world No. 26 Wang after meekly surrendering the opening game.
Wang was 7-4 up and then surged to 15-5 in a jiffy to eventually close the opening game.
In the second game, Wang led 3-0 early on but this time Sameer put up a fierce fight to open up a slender 11-10 lead, which he capitalised to roar back into the contest.
However, Sameer was outplayed by Wang in the decider. The Taiwanese shuttler zoomed to an 8-0 lead and then grabbed a 15-2 advantage, a gap which the Indian failed to bridge in the end.
In later matches, Kashyap registered a brilliant as he beat Japan’s Kenta Nishimoto 21-18, 16-21, 21-10 in a 66-minute match to enter the round of 16. Nishimoto is currently ranked 12th in the world. The Indian will face second seed Chou Tien Chen next.
World No 10 Sai Praneeth took the first game against third seed Shi Yuqi from China but went down in three games 21-11, 18-21, 12-21 in the round of 32. The match lasted 46 minutes.
Sourabh Verma set up an all-Indian round of 16 match when he beat French shuttler Brice Leverdez in straight games 21-11, 21-15 to set up a match against compatriot Srikanth Kidambi.