Top Indian badminton players Saina Nehwal and Parupalli Kashyap crossed the opening hurdle to enter the second round of the $275,000 French Open Super Series at Stade Pierre de Coubertin in Paris on Wednesday.
Top seed Nehwal tamed World No. 14 Michelle Li of Canada 21-18, 21-13 in a 42-minute match, while eighth seed Kashyap saw off local player Thomas Rouxel 21-11, 22-20 in a men’s singles contest.
Olympic bronze-medallist Nehwal will next take on the winner of the match between Germany’s Karin Schnaase and Japan’s Minatsu Mitani. Interestingly, Mitani had ended Nehwal’s run at the Denmark Open last week. Commonwealth Games champion Kashyap will fight it out against the winner of the match between Thailand’s Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk and England’s Rajiv Ouseph.
However, it was curtains for World No. 5 Kidambi Srikanth as he went down fighting to Tian Houwei 15-21, 21-13, 11-21 in a 63-minute match. This is Srikanth’s fourth loss to the World No 10 Chinese this season.
In the women’s singles match, Commonwealth Games champion Li made a robust start to her campaign, leading 7-3 early on but Nehwal soon reeled off six straight points to grab the lead. The duo then battled for each point, moving neck and neck till 16-16 when Nehwal surged ahead to grab the opening game.
In the second game, Nehwal was ruthless as she opened up a massive 12-5 lead and didn’t allow Li to come anywhere near her to seal the match comfortably.
In the men’s singles match, Kashyap fought back from 1-3 down early on to turn the tables at 6-6. The Indian didn’t look back after that as he marched ahead to pocket the first game.
Kashyap led 8-4 in the second game initially and even though Rouxel clawed back at 8-8, the Indian moved ahead to 18-13. Rouxel made one more surge and drew parity at 20-20 but he failed to go the distance as Kashyap shut the door with two points.