Since the India Open Super Series draw was announced, the pundits had marked out an all-India quarterfinal. While it would have kept the crowd happy, they had forgotten about the potential Chinese threat.
Youngster PV Sindhu kept her end of the bargain. After ousting Xue Yao in the first round, the 17-year-old got rid of Sun Yu 19-21, 21-19, 21-15 on Thursday. After that, the attention shifted to Saina Nehwal’s second-round match against Japan’s Yui Hashimoto.
Unfortunately, the world No 2 failed to deliver after a tense 62-minute battle. Playing Hashimoto for the first time, Saina lost 13-21, 21-12, 22-20 in front of a stunned home crowd. To make matters worse, the top seed failed to capitalise on three match points! “I couldn’t concentrate after the bad line call,” said a dejected Saina.
Here’s what happened. The scoreboard read 21-13, 12-22, 20-17 in Saina’s favour when, after a long rally, the Indian thought Hashimoto had hit out, and raised her arms to celebrate breaking the India Open jinx.
The linesman called it good which didn’t go down well with the London Games bronze medallist. One could see her body language change as the next four points played out in fast motion. The world No. 46 heaved a sigh of relief when Saina’s return missed the line.
Anand Pawar caused the biggest upset of the day. The Scottish International winner saw off third-seeded Hu Yun of Hong Kong in less than an hour. The world No 53 triumphed 21-15, 15-21, 21-10 to set up a quarterfinal match against Ajay Jayaram, who beat Indonesian Dionysius Hayom Rumbaka 21-15, 21-12.
It was a good day for a few other Indians. HS Prannoy reached the quarterfinals with a shock victory over Taufik Hidayat. He won 26-24, 21-9.
He will take on world No 1 Lee Chong Wei next. 2011 quarterfinal finalist Sourabh Varma gave Japan’s sixth seed Kenichi Tago a run for his money before bowing out 21-19, 16-21, 14-21. K Srikanth, who had upset the fourth seed in the first round, lost to compatriot RMV Gurusaidutt 21-12, 21-16.