The loudest cheer of the near capacity crowd at the Siri Fort badminton complex was reserved till India’s ace shuttler Saina Nehwal sent an overhead toss beyond the sideline. That was the first point the world number 3 had conceded after winning the first game 21-0 against Northern Ireland’s Caroline Black and the spectators could not help but spur up the 16-year-old rookie from Lisburn, who looked completely lost on the court.
Saina conceded just one more point to pocket the third round encounter 21-0, 21-2 in just 11 minutes to set up a quarterfinal date with her former doubles partner and sixth seed Anna Rice of Canada. Rice defeated Gayle Lloyd of Guernsey 21-4, 21-7 in her third round match.
While Saina had a stroll in the park, the other Indian singles stars did get some much needed match practice before the quarterfinals, where they will face tougher opponents. Aditi Mutatkar was on court for 24 minutes during her 21-11, 21-17 victory over Kirsty Gilmour of Scotland, while P Kashyap needed use to his full array of strokes to defeat Kieran Merrilees, also of Scotland, 21-12, 21-15.
Aditi will face second seed Wong Mew Choo, while Kashyap will face 2002 gold medallist and fourth seed Mohammad Hafiz Hashim of Malaysia.
However, the match of the day was the women’s doubles encounter between Jwala Gutta/Ashwini Ponnappa and the Malaysian combination of Eei Hui Chin/Khe Wei Woon. The Indians failed to get any rhythm in the opening game and looked like fighting a losing battle before the change of ends.
But once Ashwini began getting her smashes on target, the scenario changed. With both teams boasting of excellent defensive skills, the spectators were treated to long rallies in which advantage changed hands number of times but it was the Indians who came up triumph with a 15-21, 21-10, 21-16 scoreline.
However, it was the end of the road for the scratch mixed doubles combination of Sanave Thomas/Aparna Balan and Rupesh Kumar/Ashwini Ponnappa. While Thomas and Balan went down in straight games against seventh seed Chris Adcock and Gabrielle White of England 21-15, 21-18, Rupesh and Ashwini gave a scare to second seed and local favourites Jwala Gutta and V Diju. Having won the first game, Rupesh and Ashwini failed to convert the big points in their favour and went down 15-21, 21-18, 21-16.
Women: Singles: Aditi Mutatkar bt Kristy Gilmour (Sco) 21-11, 21-17; Saina Nehwal bt Carolina Black (Nir) 21-0, 21-2
Doubles: Aditi/Aparna Balan lost to Leanne Choo/Renuga Veeran (Aus) 16-21, 21-23; Jwala/Ashwini vs Eei Hui Chin/Khe Wei Woon (Mas) 15-21, 21-10, 21-16
Men: Singles: P Kashyap bt Kieran Merrilees (Sco) 21-12, 21-15; Chetan Anand bt Jamie van Hooijdonk (Wal) 21-8, 21-2
Doubles: Sanave/Rupesh bt Gareth Henry/Garron Palmer (Jam) 21-11, 21-7
Mixed doubles: Sanave/Aparna lost to Chris Adcock/Gabrielle White 15-21, 18-21; Jwala/V Diju bt Rupesh/Ashwini 15-21, 21-18, 21-16