It was a red-letter day for Indian badminton with three shuttlers storming into the quarterfinals at the World Badminton Championships, just one step away from clinching a medal in the tourney. While it was expected that Saina Nehwal would beat her opponent, India's rising badminton stars Parupalli Kashyap and PV Sindhu too secured quarterfinal berths after beating highly-fancied opponents.
P.V. Sindhu caused the biggest upset of the tournament so far by knocking out defending champion and second seed Yihan Wang of China to advance to the women's singles quarterfinals here on Thursday.
The 10th seeded Sindhu, who got a bye in the first round, defeated London Olympics silver medallist in 55 minutes at the Tianhe Indoor Stadium.
Sindhu took the match 21-18, 23-21 after some titanic rallies in the third game which left Wang looking exhausted.
The 18-year-old had last faced and lost to Wang in the Sudirman Cup in May in their only other meeting.
Sindhu, who had lost to Yihan in their only encounter previously at the Sudirman Cup in May, fought hard in the first game. The Indian managed to take a 12-9 lead before Yihan levelled at 16-all. Thereon, Sindhu used her height to her advantage by dropping the shuttle regularly at the net, enabling her to take the game.
The 18-year-old raced to a 13-7 lead in the second game. But the defending champion wasn't going to give in easily and recovered to make it 17-19.
Sindhu clinched the next point to have three match-points in her kitty. But the 25-year-old Chinese found legs to not just knock off the three points but also reach game point (21-20).
However, the Hyderabadi clawed back by first levelling and then taking the next two points to bag the match in straight games. She next faces another Chinese test in the quarters where seventh seed Shixian Wang will be waiting for her.
The young Indian now runs into world number eight Shixian Wang of China.
Earlier, Sindhu’s citymate Saina Nehwal rallied from a game down to beat Thailand’s Porntip Buranaprasertsuk and entered the quarterfinals.
London Olympics bronze medallist Saina, who had reached the quarterfinals of previous editions in 2009, 2010 and 2011, beat 15th seed Buranaprasertsuk 18-21 21-16 21-14 in a clash which lasted 52 minutes.
With this win, Saina, seeded third in the event, also kept her all-win record against Buranaprasertsuk intact, having beaten her in their five previous encounters before Thursday.
Saina’s most recent win against Buranaprasertsuk came last year during the Thailand Open.
Buranaprasertsuk started off strongly today and surprised the Indian with better command over smash winners, sending down 11 of them in the first game.
But Saina regained her composure pretty quickly and roared back in the second game with nine of her trademark smash winners.
She kept up the pressure in the deciding game as well to emerge triumphant after the initial scare.
Saina looked out of sorts in the first game, making several errors. Her Thai opponent capitalised and closed the gap from 4-7 to 8-all and was at Saina's heels till 18-all. The 21-year-old Thai clinched the next three points to win her first game against the Indian since 2008.
The 23-year-old Indian bounced back in the second game by taking a 15-4 advantage in no time.
Though the Thai tried coming back (10-16), but Saina was in her elements and sealed the game with the help of nine smashes. Despite the game getting tight at the end, the Hyderabadi held her nerves to level the match.
Unlike the first game, Saina made sure she kept the lead throughout the decider. Aided by some brilliant cross court slices from the third court, Saina increased her lead (11-5). After the change of sides, Porntip found legs and notched up a few points with some down-the-line smashes, bringing down Saina's lead to 14-13.
The aggressive Thai made some errors too, giving the initiative to Saina, who then extended the lead to 17-13. The Indian made a minor error before securing the next four points to seal the tie. Saina will next play South Korea's 13th seed Yeon Ju Bae against whom the Indian has a 5-2 record.
In another pre-quarterfinal, 13th seed Parupalli Kashyap advanced in the men's singles beating Hong Kong's sixth seed Yun Hu 21-13, 21-16 in 37 minutes. This is Kashyap's best outing at the event and also the 26-year-old's first victory over the Hong Kong shuttler in three meetings.
Kashyap hit 16 clear winners as compared to just nine by his opponent from Hong Kong.
Yun Hu completely failed to live up to the expectations and was far from his best today. Hu, looking totally off-colour, let the Indian dominate throughout the match.
Kashyap took an upper hand by opening up a 14-7 lead in the first game itself, before wrapping it up 21-13. The second game also saw Hu suffering a similar fate as Kashyap once again made it 14-7. But Hu pocketed four consecutive points to reduce the gap to 11-14 and then levelled 15-15 before running out steam to hand Kashyap a comfortable victory in the end.
Kashyap will meet world number three Pengyu Du in the last eight stage.
Men's singles: Kashyap Parupalli (x13 IND) bt Hu Yun (x6 HKG) 21-13, 21-16
Women's singles: P.V. Sindhu (x10 IND) bt Wang Yihan (x2 CHN) 21-18, 23-21; Sainha Newhal (x3 IND) bt Porntip Buranaprasertsuk (x15 THA) 18-21, 21-16, 21-14