Women shuttlers qualify for quarter-finals despite 2-3 loss to powerhouse Japan; men's team crash out after suffering 0-5 rout to Indonesia
Kunshan (China): The Indian women's team qualified for the Uber Cup badminton tournament quarter-finals despite suffering a narrow 2-3 loss to powerhouse Japan in its third and final Group D match, here yesterday.
India's PV Sindhu returns against Japan's Akane Yamaguchi during the Uber Cup singles group match at Kunshan in China yesterday. Pic/AFP
Men's team blanked
The men's team, however, continued its dismal run in the Thomas Cup and crashed out after being blanked 0-5 by Indonesia in their third match of Group B at the Kunshan Sports Center Stadium.
The Indian men's team had lost to Thailand and Hong Kong in its last two outings and will return winless from China.
In Uber Cup, ace shuttlers Saina Nehwal and P V Sindhu notched up straight-game victories in the first two singles but Indian eves could not win the two doubles and third singles to go down fighting to 2014 runners-up Japan.
Saina on fire
Olympic bronze medallist, Saina defeated World No 5 Nozomi Okuhara 18-21, 6-21 to avenge her only loss to the Japanese at the Dubai World Superseries Finals last year and give her team a 1-0 lead.
The 26-year-old from Hyderabad fought back to pocket the first game and then dished out a dominating game to zoom past Okuhara in the second game to complete the victory in 38 minutes.
In the second singles, two-time World Championship bronze medallist, P V Sindhu notched up a 21-11, 21-18 win over World No 11 Akane Yamaguchi in a 36-minute clash to guide India to a 2-0 lead.
However, Jwala Gutta combined with N Sikki Reddy to take on the formidable World No 1 pair of Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi and went down without a fight 11-21, 8-21 in the first women's doubles.
Indians no match
In the third singles, Ruthvika Shivani Gadde was entrusted with the responsibility of taming World No 12 Sayaka Sato and the Indian expectedly could not match up, going down 7-21, 14-21 in 29 minutes to allow Japan draw parity.
In the decider, Ashwini Ponnappa paired up with Sindhu but their gallant fight ended with a 21-15, 19-21, 16-21 loss to Shizuka Matsuo and Mami Naito as Indian eves lost 2-3 in their final league match.
However, India still qualified for the knockout stage as they are placed second behind Japan in Group D after winning against Australia and Germany.
The top two teams in each group make it to the knockout stage and there will be another draw for the quarters.