Olympic bronze-medallist Saina Nehwal bowed out of the Swiss Open Super 300 tournament after a hard-fought first-round loss to Phittayaporn Chaiwan of Thailand in Basel.
The Indian shuttler battled for 58 minutes before going down 16-21, 21-17, 21-23 to Chaiwan in the women’s singles event on Wednesday night.
Nehwal started off well but the youngster from Thailand controlled the tempo of the opening game with her drops and slices to open up a lead. A spate of errors from the Indian saw her drop the first game.
But the former world No 1 fought back in the second game. Neither Nehwal nor Chaiwan managed a two-point lead till 13-13 but the Indian pulled away in the back-end to get five game points and converted the third to force a decider.
From then, it was a nerve-wracking finish to the match. From 7-10 down, Nehwal won four points in a row to take a slender lead at the final change of ends and then opened up a 19-17 lead with better control of rallies.
But the Thai youngster held her never and saved the two match points she faced before converting the first she got to complete an impressive win.
The other Indian in the event, PV Sindhu, however, entered the round of 16 by beating Yigit Neslihan of Turkey 21-16 21-19 in her first-round match. The second-seeded Sindhu will face Iris Wang of USA in her Round of 16 match later on Thursday.
Among Indian male shuttlers, fourth seed Kidambi Srikanth, fifth seed B Sai Praneeth, Sourabh Verma, and Ajay Jayaram have progressed to the last 16 and they will take the court against their respective opponents later in the day.
HS Prannoy, Parupalli Kashyap, Lakshya Sen and Sameer Verma, however, have made first-round exits from the men’s singles event.
Second seeds in men’s doubles Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty were made to work hard by lower-ranked opponents while Ashwini Ponnappa and Sikki Reddy make a winning start to their campaign.
(You can follow the results and schedule of Indian contingent in Basel here.)
With PTI Inputs