India Open Super Series: Srikanth loses; Saina enters second round

New DelhiDefending champion Kidambi Srikanth crashed out of the first round of men's singles but Saina Nehwal advanced to second round of women's event in the Indian Open Super Series badminton tournament here today.

Women's singles defending champion Saina and Rituparna Das had an easy outing as both entered round two of the USD 300,000 event comfortably here at the Siri Fort stadium.

Olympic bronze medallist Saina thrashed compatriot Tanvi Lad 21-7 21-13 in a lop-sided 34-minute match, while Rituparna Das defeated compatriot Anura Prabhudesai 21-18 21-15. 

The World No. 6 Indian will next face Thailand's Nitchaon Jindapol and Rituparna will meet former All England champion and fourth seed Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand. 

Srikanth, meanwhile, played out his skin before losing 13-21 21-17 22-24 to All England finalist Chinese Tian Houwei, seeded seventh, in a hard-fought match that lasted an hour and 23 minutes.

Srikanth had defeated Tian during the Badminton Asia Team Championships in February.

B Sai Praneeth, who had stunned two-time Olympic silver medallist Lee Chong Wei in the opening round of All England Championship, lost 20-22 13-21 to Sony Dwi Kuncoro of Indonesia, while Ajay Jayaram blew away a 11-7 and a 19-17 lead in the decider to go down 12-21 21-13 19-21 to Germany's Marc Zwiebler in other opening round matches of men's singles. 

Women's singles player Ruthvika Shivani Gadde also suffered a 10-21 14-21 loss to sixth seeded Chinese Wang Shixian, who reached the finals of the All England earlier this month.

In men's doubles category, Pranaav Jerry Chopra and Akshay Dewalkar, who reached the finals of the Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold, beat Arjun Kumar Reddy Malgari and Santosh Ravuri 21-17 21-16 to set up a fight with Korean second seeds Kim Gi Jung and Kim Sa Rang. 

Another Indian men's doubles pair of Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy, who won the Mexico Open last year, beat compatriots Vineeth Manuel and S Sanjeeth 21-13 21-13 in another lop-sided match. They will meet Chinese Taipei's Chen Hung Ling and Chi-Lin Wang.

India's Jishnu Sanyal and Shivam Sharma also reached the second round after brushing aside Egypt's Ali Ahmed El Khateeb and Abdelrahman Kashkal 21-6 21-11. They will square off against Chinese Teipei's Lee Sheng Mu and Tsai Chia Hsin. 

In women's doubles, Mohita Sahdev and Sanjana Santosh defeated fellow Indians Smriti Nagarkoti and Parssa Naqvi 21-19 21-7. They will clash with compatriots Ch. Poornima and Rachita Sahdev.

Three Indian pairs reached the second round in mixed doubles. Manu and Ashwini Ponnappa thrashed compatriots Kapil Chaudhary and Smriti Nagarkoti 21-7 21-3 to set up a clash with China's Zhang Wen and Jia Yifan next, while Venkat Gaurav Prasad and Juhi Dewangan beat Kashish Sharma and Jagriti Nashier 21-11 21-17 and will take on China's Liu Yuchen and Tang Jinhua.

Pranaav and Sikki Reddy also notched up a thrilling 21-17 17-21 21-14 win over Korean combo of Solgyu Choi and Eom Hye Won to set up a meeting with Chinese duo of Wang Yilyu and Chen Qingchen. 

Saina, who was recently awarded the Padma Bhushan, said it was a great honour. "It all started here a year ago when I became the world no. 1. It was a great year and feels nice to be awarded the Padma Bhushan. It is a great honour." 

The defending champion added, "I hope to repeat the feat here. My progress has been hampered by the Achilles injury which took two months to recover. Physical recovery is one thing but to get that tip-toe feeling out of your system takes time. In Swedish Open, I was a bit tentative. At the All-England I improved and here on Day I, I feel good. So let's see."

Asked about Rio Olympics, she said, "It is there at the back of everyone's mind. Li, Wang and Sung are all playing here. We are all keeping an eye on each other. It is after all the Olympic year. Even though I am fortunate enough to win an Olympic medal."

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