Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu sailed into the second round with convincing wins over their opponents at the Malaysia Masters Super 500 event in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday while HS Prannoy, Sameer Verma produced upset wins over higher-ranked players.
Prannoy defeated Japan’s Kanta Tsuneyama in straight games while Verma also pulled off an impressive win against Thailand’s Kantaphon Wangcharoen.
Nehwal defeated Belgium’s Lianne Tan while Sindhu overcame Russia’s Evgeniya Kosetskaya, with both Indians winning in straight games.
Prannoy produced India’s best result of the day as he downed world No 10 Tsuneyama 21-9, 21-17 in just 34 minutes to move into the round of 16. He will face world No 1 Kento Momota next.
The result was soon followed by Verma’s win against Wangcharoen, ranked 20 places above the Indian at No 13. The world No 33 won 21-16, 21-15 in 47 minutes. Verma will now face Malaysia’s Lee Zii Jia in the next round.
World Championships bronze-medallist B Sai Praneeth, the seasoned Kidambi Srikanth and Parupalli Kashyap were eliminated in the first round, with the men’s singles shuttlers enduring a tough time otherwise.
The London Olympics bronze medallist Nehwal beat Tan 21-15 21-17 in just 36 minutes of action. This was the first time the two were facing each other. The former world No 1, who claimed the Indonesia Masters last year has struggled since making a series of early exits in the rest of the year. Nehwal will now take on South Korean sensation An Se Young, who is seeded eighth. The teenager had beaten Nehwal at the French Open in their only previous meeting.
After a tight opening game, world No 6 Sindhu needed just 35 minutes to beat Kosetskaya 21-15, 21-13. Sindhu faces Japan’s Aya Ohori in the pre-quarters.
Earlier, Praneeth made a first round exit after going down tamely to Denmark’s Rasmus Gemke 11-21, 15-21.
Srikanth lost to Chinese Taipei’s Chou Tien Chen 17-21, 5-21 in only 30 minutes, with the second game a complete blowout.
Kashyap stayed in touch with Momota till the later stages but ultimately the world No 1 pulled away and clinched the match 21-17, 21-16 in 43 minutes.
In the final match for the contingent on Wednesday, World No 1 Zheng Si Wei and Huang Ya Qiong defeated India’s Sikki Reddy and Pranaav Jerry Chopra 21-10, 21-10 to mark the end of India’s campaign in doubles categories.
The earlier men’s singles defeats meant more disappointment for India in the Super 500 tournament following Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty’s first-round defeat in the men’s doubles event on Tuesday. Lakshya Sen also bowed out at the qualifying stage. But with Verma and Prannoy’s wins, four shuttlers still remain in the fray.