Indian ace Saina Nehwal was the only bright spot in an otherwise dismal day for Indian shuttlers as she eased past Thailand’s Busanan Ongbumrungphan to enter the second round of the All England Open badminton tournament at the Barclaycard Arena on Friday.
The 25-year-old from Hyderabad scripted a 21-16, 21-9 victory in the second round lat on Thursday to be the only Indian remaining in the tournament. Sania will meet Tai Tzu Ying of Taiwan in the last eight stage.
Busanan gave Saina a good fight in the opening game. The early stages saw a tough battle but Saina showed some great touch at the net as well as the baseline to win five points in a row and take a comfortable 18-11 lead.
Busanan showed great resilience to close the gap to 18-16, but Saina held her nerves to take the game.
The second seeded Indian showed her class in the secong game, dominating her opponent to clinch the victory in 42 minutes.
“I’ve been carrying the expectations for many years. At the same time I know every match counts because so many people are following me,” Saina said after the match.
“I don’t want to think about these things too much as sometimes it plays a major role.”
The other Indian shuttlers proved to be a disappointment, with all of them losing to their respective opponents.
Among the men, Kidambi Srikanth was no match for Kento Momota of Japan, going down in straight games in the second round. The Japanese was in terrific form, winning 21-10, 21-13.
The unheralded Sai Praneeth, who had created a sensation by knocking out five-time World Champion Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia in the first round, was not up to the mark in the second round.
Up against Hans-Kristian Vittinghus of Denmark, he gave a tough fight, winning the first game before going down 21-12, 11-21, 6-21.
Another Indian, Sameer Verma, fought hard before being edged out by Tain Houwei of China. He won the opening game before the Chinese fought back to win 10-21, 21-12, 21-19.