India’s leading badminton players Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth made a positive start to their campaign, reaching the second round of the $650,000 Denmark Open Super Series Premier in Odense on Wednesday, while HS Prannoy was knocked out in the first round.
World No. 1 Nehwal survived a scare before prevailing over Thailand’s Busanan Ongbumrungphan in women’s singles, while Srikanth saw off compatriot and Dutch Open winner Ajay Jayaram in men’s singles. Sindhu also advanced after beating Indonesia’s Maria Febe Kusumastuti 21-13, 21-11.
2012 champion Nehwal had beaten the Thai girl at the Japan Open this year but those results mattered little as the two squared up in their first game of the tournament. In the first game, Nehwal took time to get off the mark as Ongbumrungphan dominated the proceedings early on and opened up a 8-4 lead. But Nehwal clawed back at 9-9. The Indian tried to keep her nose ahead but the Thai girl once again wrested control at 20-18. Nehwal finally managed to take the first game 23-21.
The gruelling contest lasted an hour and nine minutes, after which Nehwal saw off Ongbumrungphan 23-21, 14-21, 21-18. The World Championship silver medallist will next take on 2012 French Open champion Japan’s Minatsu Mitani.
In men’s singles, Srikanth was up against compatriot Jayaram and it was the former who came up with a better performance as he notched up a 21-10, 21-14 win in a 32-minute match. The India Open champion will next meet the winner of the match between Indonesia’s Tommy Sugiarto and Japan’s Sho Sasaki.
World No. 8 Parupalli Kashyap, however, suffered a 14-21, 15-21 loss to former World No. 1 and two-time Olympic silver medallist Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia to bow out of the tournament.
In doubles, the top Indian men’s pair of Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy, who finished runners-up at the Dutch Open last week, posted a 24-22, 21-13 win over the English duo of Marcus Ellis and Chris Langridge.
However, it was curtains for 2010 Commonwealth Games champions Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa as they lost 19-21, 18-21 to seventh seeds Reika Kakiiwa and Miyuki Maeda of Japan in a 45-minute women’s doubles match.
On Thursday, HS Prannoy played out of his skin before going down fighting against Hsu Jen Hao of Chinese Taipei in the opening round. World No 16 Prannoy, who had lost to Hao at the 2011 Bulgarian International, could not exert enough pressure on his opponent and suffered a 21-23, 21-19, 15-21 loss in a men’s singles match that lasted an hour and 21 minutes yesterday.
Prannoy dominated most part of the opening game as he led 7-3 early on and even though Hao wrested control for a brief time at 13-12, the Indian grabbed the lead immediately with a four-point burst to move to 17-13 and then held three game points at 20-17. But Prannoy squandered the lead as Hao surpassed him with four straight points to move to 21-20 and then sealed the game with two more points.
Bolstered by the first game, World No. 24 Hao came into his own in the second and led right from the start to be 15-11 at one stage.
Prannoy, however, had other plans as he caught up with his rival after reeling off four points and after an intense battle managed to pocket the second game with three points straight from 18-19.
In the decider, Prannoy zoomed ahead to a 4-0 lead initially but Hao clawed back at 6-6 and after a battle of supremacy, he broke off from 13-13 to eventually seal the issue in his favour.