World Champion PV Sindhu survived a scare in the opening round of the Indonesia Masters Super 500 tournament on Wednesday in Jakarta, where Indian shuttlers otherwise endured a wretched day.
Defending champion Saina Nehwal suffered a shock exit after going down to Japan’s Sayaka Takahashi in the opening round while former world No 1 Srikanth Kidambi’s poor international form continued as well.
Saina, who had who had won this tournament last year before going through a lean patch, lost 19-21 13-21 5-21 to Takahashi in a gruelling 50-minute contest. This was the third win on the trot for world No 14 Takahashi against the Indian, and she improved the head-to-head record to 3-4.
The London Olympics bronze medallist had reached the quarterfinals of the Malaysia Masters last week and was on course to set up a match against Sindhu in the second round. But she was blown away in the decider 5-21 by Takahashi.
Later, Sindhu bounced back from losing the opening game against a familiar opponent but Ohori could not keep up the pressure on the Indian star. Sindhu, with her win in 59 minutes, kept up her unbeaten record against Ohori, extending the head-to-head to 10-0.
In the men’s singles, it was curtains for world championships bronze medallist B Sai Praneeth, Kidambi Srikanth and Sourabh Verma.
World No 12 Srikanth went down to local favourite Shesar Hiren Rhustavito 21-18, 12-21, 14-21 in a match that lasted one hour and three minutes.
This was Srikanth’s second consecutive opening-round defeat this season. He had earlier also made a first-round exit from the Malaysia Masters.
Praneeth, who like Srikanth had also been ousted in the opening round of the Malaysia Masters, lost to the eighth seeded Chinese Shi Yu Qi 21-16 18-21 10-21. Sourabh lost 21-17 15-21 10-21 to China’s Lu Guang Zu.
The defeats kept coming for the Indian contingent as Sameer Verma went the distance but lost to Indonesian veteran Tommy Sugiarto 17-21, 21-19, 21-10 in 64 minutes. Another Indonesian star ended former commonwealth Games champion Parupalli Kashyap’s campaign as Anthony Ginting defeated the Indian 21-14, 21-12 in 38 minutes. Kashyap had a 12-7 lead in the opening game but Ginting won 14 of the next 16 points. The second game was one-sided largely.
In men’s doubles opening round, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty were also knocked out in the round of 32. Satwik and Chirag faced an uphill task against the reigning world champions and local favourites Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan. In a hard-fought opener where both pairs were neck-and-neck for most part, Satwik/Chirag had a game point but Ahsan/Setiawan saved that and clinched the game 22-20. It was not quite close in the second game as Ahsan/Setiawan avenged their French Open 2019 defeat against the Indian pair.
In mixed doubles, Pranaav Jerry Chopra and Sikki Reddy went down in straight games to the South Korean combination of Ko Sung Hyun and Eom Hye Won 8-21 14-21.
Ultimately, an utterly forgettable day for India came to an end with former top 10 player HS Prannoy going down in straight games 17-21, 14-21 against Jonatan Christie. The match lasted 38 minutes.
Out of the ten matches featuring Indians on the day, it was only Sindhu who won her match to proceed to the round of 16. She will face Nehwal’s victor Takahashi in the next round.
(With PTI inputs)