Saina Nehwal, playing her second major tournament after a long injury break, broke a lot of sweat in winning her opening round match of the Hong Kong Open badminton championship on Wednesday. PV Sindhu was in cruise mode as she made the second round with consummate ease.
Saina Nehwal, a former world No. 1, seeded fifth in Hong Kong, bounced back after losing the first game to come through with a 12-21, 21-19, 21-17 scoreline against Thailand’s upcoming star Porntip Buranaprasertsuk. The match lasted almost an hour.
Saina Nehwal is in the lower half of the draw and could run into PV Sindhu in the semifinal stage. PV Sindhu, who won the China Open last week, beat Indonesian Susanto Yulia Yosephin 21-13, 21-16 in 32 minutes.
The Hong Kong Open has world No. 1 and Olympic champion Carolina Marin participating. She is in the top half and unlikely to face any serious challenge till she enters the last-eight stage.
But all eyes will be on PV Sindhu, whose China Open win was her first super series title in her burgeoning career.
A solid run in Hong Kong from Rio 2016 silver medallist Sindhu can pave the way to the Dubai World Super Series Finals. Her Dubai Destination ranking of 14 means she is currently out of contention for the $1,000,000 event.
A Super Series title this week will fetch her 9,200 points and could take her points total (27,490) ahead of compatriot Saina Nehwal (35,420) who is currently eighth in the rankings.
The Rio Olympic silver-medallist crashed out in the first round of the tournament last year against familiar foe Carolina Marin. The World No. 1 again bested her in the Olympic final in August and Sindhu would look to set the record straight if she runs into the Spaniard this week.
Among other Indians in the fray in Hong Kong, Swiss Open winner H S Prannoy defeated China’s Qiao Bin 21-16, 21-18, while national champion Sameer Verma edged past Japan’s Takuma Ueda 22-20, 21-18 in the men’s singles.
Ajay Jayaram had a tough fight against Anthony Sinisuka Ginting of Indonesia in his opening singles encounter. He won the opening game, only to give Ginting the momentum by losing the second game. However, Jayaram closed the match 21-15, 13-21, 21-16 to advance to the next round.
The men’s doubles pair of Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy, who represented India at the Rio Olympics, however, suffered a 15-21, 8-21 loss to the Korean combo of Solgyu Choi and KO Sung Hyun.