World champion PV Sindhu and veteran Saina Nehwal registered comfortable wins to reach the quarter-finals of the Malaysia Masters Super 500 badminton tournament in Kuala Lumpur while India’s men’s singles challenge came to an end.
Nehwal defeated French Open champion An Se Young 25-23, 21-12 in a thrilling 39-minute encounter while Sindhu dispatched Japan’s Aya Ohori 21-10, 21-15 in 34 minutes.
While the women stars were on a roll, it was the end of the road for the men’s singles shuttlers after HS Prannoy and Sameer Verma were knocked out despite fighting performances.
Verma led Malaysia’s Lee Zii Jia in both the games but ended up on the losing end of the 21-19, 22-20 scoreline.
Prannoy was up against world champion and world No 1 Kento Momota in the men’s singles second round. The Indian did everything in his capacity to stop the Japanese juggernaut but ended up losing 21-14, 21-16.
However, the day belonged to Nehwal. The London Olympics bronze medallist, who had struggled to find form in the second half of last year, had lost to Young in their previous encounter and needed to start strong on Thursday.
With the conditions testing both players, it was Nehwal’s experience that weathered the initially difficult period as she needed three game points in the opening game to draw first blood. She had allowed Young to come back in the first half of the game and it looked like the same script would follow in the second when the Korean saved two game points. But the Indian managed to save two game points herself before pocketing the game.
She will now face Spain’s Carolina Marin, who had injured her knee when the two players met the last time in the Indonesia Masters final.
Marin defeated China’s Kai Yan Yan 21-16, 21-18 in the second round after knocking out Akane Yamaguchi in the round of 32.
Later in the day, Sindhu was clinical in her demolition of Ohori. She will now face world No 1 Tai Tzu Ying for a place in the semi-final. The Chinese Taipei shuttler overcame a second game slump to beat Korea’s Sung Ji Hyun 21-18, 16-21, 21-10 to advance to the quarter-finals.