When Elvis Presley sang ‘So close, yet so far’, he of course didn’t have Parupalli Kashyap in mind. Unfortunately, for the 26-year-old Indian, the five words came true on Wednesday.
He was to play 2004 Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat in the first round of the India Open Super Series. With a head-to-head count of 0-6 against him, fans were sceptical but hoped the world No 7 would be lucky the seventh time.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be. After lifting hopes of the crowd by winning the first game 21-13, Kashyap, the London Games quarterfinalist, had a match point in the second at 21-20. But the Indonesian was firm. He had no intentions of giving the home fans what they wanted. Instead, with clinical precision, the unseeded Hidayat reached the second round, winning the next two games 23-21, 21-18.
“He gave me a lot of opportunities to capitalise on,” said Hidayat after the match. So was this the closest Kashyap had ever got to beating the Indonesian? With a laugh the Indian said, “I didn’t make the silly mistakes I had made earlier.”
Barring Kashyap, most of the other Indians had a good outing. Top seeded Saina Nehwal thrilled the home crowd, showing the door to Indonesia’s Belaetrix Manuputi 21-12, 21-15.
Then came 17-year-old PV Sindhu (seed No 8) who took 46 minutes but beat Chinese Xue Yao 17-21, 21-18, 21-14.
The biggest upset of the day was pulled off by 20-year-old K Srikanth who got rid of fourth seed Jan O’ Jorgensen 21-7, 18-21, 21-12. Others who reached the second round in singles were Ajay Jayaram, B Sai Praneeth, RMV Gurusaidutt, Anand Pawar and Sourabh Varma.
Qualifiers Rituparna Das and G Ruthvika Shivani, the two youngsters who qualified on Tuesday, impressed before bowing out. Jwala Gutta and Prajakta Sawant, who put their partnership to test for the first time, were unsuccessful as well.