New Delhi: Ace shuttler Saina Nehwal finally broke her jinx at the Indian Open as she stormed into the quarterfinals of the women's singles competition with a straight-game victory over Thailand's Natcha Saengchote at the USD 250,000 Super Series event in New Delhi on Thursday.
The world number eight Indian could never go beyond the second round in the last three editions of the Indian Open but she broke the hoodoo on Thursday when she thrashed Natcha 21-15 21-12 in a match that lasted just 35 minutes at the Siri Fort Sports complex.
Saina Nehwal in action against Thailand opponent Natcha Saengchote during the India Open 2014 at the Siri Fort Sports Complex in New Delhi on Thursday. Pic/AFP
India's Parupalli Kashyap also continued his good run to reach the quarterfinals after prevaling over his training partner R M V Gurusaidutt 21-15 16-21 21-11 in the men's singles competition.
However, it was heartbreak for Malaysia Open finalist Sourabh Varma, Trupti Murgunde, former national champion Sayali Gokhale and Commonwealth Games gold medallists Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa as they crashed out in the second round.
Saina took sometime to get going initially but fought back from 2-5 down to lead 11-8 at the break.
However, a series of unforced errors allowed Natcha to draw parity at 12-12.
Saina tried to vary the pace but faltered on the nets as the lead changed hands frequently till 15-15. But the Indian soon started dictating terms and judged the length of the shuttle well, reeling off six straight points to close the first game with a smash that left Natcha clueless.
A series of unforced errors put paid to Natcha's hopes as she lagged behind 3-11 in the second game.
The Thai girl tried to fight back and narrowed the gap to 9-15 and then 12-17, especially with Saina faltering with her slices that got burried at the nets.
But the Indian soon got hold of the game and romped home with a four-point burst. "It was a good match. I was playing her for first time. Starting was confusing, she has a sharp strokes but as the match progressed I became more confident. The second game was better even in terms of movement. I was sluggish in the start but over all I think it is good for tomorrow's match against the chinese player," Saina said.
A former world number six, Kashyap kept up the pressure on Guru right from the start and kept him at bay to pocket the first game.
In the second game, Guru tightened his defence and slowed down the pace to bounce back.
In the decider, Guru opened up a 7-3 lead but Kashyap soon turned the tide in his favour and zoomed ahead with a nine-point burst and then held his fort.
"It was a mentally tough game. Guru had beaten me twice earlier, so I was under pressure. The reason being I am senior to him in the Academy and Guru always plays his best against me. He gets his rhythm," he said.
"Today the games were moving on a slow place. I am an attacking player and comfortable with the fast games. Guru has got a good defence; he cuts down the pace of the rallies. So even a slow pace match is tiring, you lose your patience sometimes."
For the rest of Indians in the fray, it turned out to be a disappointing day as they suffered contrasting defeats to bow out.
While Sourabh was sent packing by world number one Lee Chong Wei 21-19 21-6 in a men's singles match, Trupti lost to Aprilla Yuswandari of Indonesia 13-21 12-21 in just 28 minutes and Sayali went down to fifth seed Yeon Ju Bae of Korea 21-15 21-8 in another women's singles match to join 14 other Indians who crashed out in the singles event in the opening round.
Commonwealth Games gold medallists Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa failed to cross the second round as they suffered a 13-21 19-21 loss to fifth seed chinese Qing Tian and Yunlei Zhao, while Dhanya Nair and Mohita Sahdev too was blown away by top seed Christinna Pedersen and Kamilla Rytter Juhl of Denmark 21-4 21-9.