Japan Open:Ace Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal returned to action following an injury on a promising note as she thrashed Thailand’s Pornpawee Chochuwong in straight games in the opening round of the Japan Open Super Series here on Tuesday.
The 27-year-old, who had skipped the recently-concluded Korea Open due to a slight thigh strain, produced a rich vein of form as she took just 39 minutes to ease past Thailand’s Pornpawee Chochuwong 21-17, 21-9 and move into the second round where she will face Rio-Olympic gold medallist Carolina Marin of Spain.
Nehwal has a 4-3 record against Marin, having lost thrice in the last four meetings.
Silver-medallist PV Sindhu
Rio Olympic silver-medallist PV Sindhu, on the other hand, produced a spirited performance as she rebounded strongly from a game down against Japan’s Minatsu Mitani to progress through to the next round.
After slumping in the first game, Sindhu bounced back strongly to register a 12-21, 21-15, 21-17 win over her Japanese opponent in a clash that lasted more than one hour.
In the men’s singles event, Kidambi Srikanth and HS Prannoy also made it to the second round after posting contrasting wins.
While Srikanth defeated Tian Houwei of China 21-15, 12-21, 21-11 in one hour and four minutes, Prannoy dished out Denmark’s Anders Antonsen 21-12, 21-14 in 40 minutes.
Srikanth, who had won titles at Indonesia and Australia, will now cross swords with Hong Kong’s Hu Yun. The eighth-seeded Indian has a 2-2 head-to-head count against Yun.
Prannoy, on the other hand, will take on Taiwan’s Hsu Jen-Hao in the second round.
Sameer Verma, another Indian in fray, also moved to the next round with a comfortable 21-12, 21-19 win over Thailand’s Khosit Phetpradab. He will now square off second-seed Shi Yuqi of China.
However, Sameer’s elder brother, Sourabh suffered a major blow as he got knocked out of the tournament after slumping to a 21-11, 15-21, 13-21 defeat at the hands of two-time Olympic gold medallist Lin Dan of China.
Meanwhile, the mixed doubles Indian pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Ashwini Ponnappa also advanced to the second round after defeating Thai duo of Tinn Isriyanet and Pacharapun Chochuwong 21-17, 21-13 in the 35 minutes.
In the men’s doubles event, Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy also crashed out of the tournament after losing 18-21, 15-21 to eighth-seed duo of Lee Jhe-Huei and Lee Yang of Chinese Taipei in 31 minutes.