Sindhu in China Open quarters; Saina Nehwal, Prannoy crash
AGENCIES FUZHOU (CHINA), 16th Nov:
Defending champion PV Sindhu sailed into the quarterfinals but newly-crowned National champions Saina Nehwal and HS Prannoy crashed out of the China Open Super Series Premier, here on Thursday.
World No. 2 Sindhu emerged as the lone Indian survivor at the event after she made quick work of China's Han Yue 21-15, 21-13, an opponent ranked at 104 in BWF ranking, in a lop-sided 40-minute women's singles match. Olympic silver medallist Sindhu will clash with another Chinese qualifier Gao Fangjie on Friday.
It turned out to be a dismal day for Saina and Prannoy, who had clinched the National championship titles at Nagpur earlier this month. While Saina lost 18-21, 11-21 against her Japanese nemesis and fifth seed Akane Yamaguchi in the women's singles second round, world no. 11 Prannoy was stunned by 53rd ranked Cheuk Yiu Lee of Hong Kong 21-19 21-17 in the men's singles event.
For Saina, the match against Yamaguchi was always expected to be a tricky one considering her inferior head-to-head record against the Japanese. Before the start of today's match, Saina trailed Yamaguchi one to three in head-to-head record with their three previous results going in the Japanese favour and the trend continued.
Saina, thus, suffered her fourth defeat -- three of them in last one month -- against Yamaguchi this year. The London Olympic bronze-medallist, who won the title here in 2014, got off to a good start, taking a slender 11-9 lead but Yamaguchi fought back to pocket the first game 21-18.
Down by a game, Saina's game started to deteriorate. She lacked momentum in the second game and never looked in the mental frame to make a comeback, even as Yamaguchi comfortably took control of the proceedings. The Japanese never looked in trouble after taking the first game and did not fall behind for a single moment in the second as she sealed the match with consummate ease in just 37 minutes.
Later in the day, world no 11 Prannoy went down fighting to less-fancied Lee in a second round clash that lasted 42 minutes. The encounter started with both Prannoy and Lee exchanging quick early points before the Hong Kong shuttler raced to a two-point lead.
Prannoy tried to stage a comeback but Lee took an 11-9 lead at the interval. After the break, Prannoy tried hard to shift the momentum but never really managed to achieve that as Lee took the first game 21-19.
Prannoy played his heart out and took a slender one-point lead (11-10) at the break in the second game. But after the break, exhaustion seemed to have caught up Prannoy as the Indian struggled, enabling Lee to make a comeback and finally wrap up the contest 21-17.