Saina Nehwal and Ajay Jayaram reached the last 16 of the season-opening Malaysia Masters Grand Prix Gold badminton tournament after notching up contrasting wins in the women’s and men’s section respectively on Wednesday.
Top-seed Saina defeated Thailand’s Chasinee Korepap 21-9 21-8 in the first round. The 26-year-old, who made a first-round exit in the Rio Olympics in August due to a knee injury which required surgery, is looking for a title win to regain her confidence after a low-key return to playing.
Saina Nehwal, a former world No 1, has slipped to No 10 in the rankings, and behind younger compatriot, PV Sidhu. The Rio Olympics silver medallist is ranked No 6 in the world. Saina had won the Australian Open last year, but the injury dashed her hopes of adding to the bronze medal she won at the 2012 London Games.
Saina Nehwal will next face Indonesia’s Hanna Ramadini.
Sixth seed Jayaram, who was in good form in the just-concluded Premier Badminton League, won 21-10 17-21 21-14 against Malaysia’s Jun Hao Leong in the first round and defeated Saputra Vicky Angga 21-9 21-12 in the second match.
Ajay Jayaram, the world No 19, will next meet Chinese Taipei’s Hsueh Hsuan-yi.
Hemanth M Gowda, the other Indian in the singles draw, lost 21-5 21-19 to Chun-Wei Chen of Chinese Taipei.
In mixed doubles, newly-formed pair Manu Attri and Jwala Gutta defeated Indonesia’s Lukhi Apri Nugroho and Ririn Amelia 21-19 21-18. Women’s pair Aparna Balan and Prajakta Sawant saw off Indonesia’s Aghisna Fathkul Laili and Aprilsasi Putri Lejarsar Variella 21-10 21-11.
Prajakta also reached the mixed doubles second round partnering Malaysia’s Yogendran Khrishnan, defeating Hong Kong’s Hee Chun MAK and Yeung Nga Ting 21-14 22-20.
However, B Sumeeth Reddy and Ashwini Ponnappa lost 17-21 17-21 to Indonesian sixth seeds Tontowi Ahmad and Gloria Emanuelle Widjaja.
KP Sruthi and Haritha Manazhiyil Harinarayanan lost 21-9 21-13 to Malaysia’s Mei Kuan Chow and Vivian Hoo and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Maneesha K lost 21-10 21-14 loss to Hong Kong pair Tam Chun Hei and Ng Tsz.