India's Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth made a winning start to the All England Championship, notching up straight game victories in the women's and men's singles competition in Birmingham. A former finalist, Saina defeated Scotland's Kristy Gilmour 21-17 21-18 in 35 minutes, while Srikanth took half an hour to dispose off France's Brice Leverdez 21-13 21-11 on Wednesday night. In the next round, Saina will take on Denmark's Line Hojmark Kjaersfeldt, while Srikanth will face Asian Games gold medallist Jonatan Christie. "I really enjoy it a lot, it's something every player looks up to and the challenge is even more tougher than regular Super Series events," Saina, an Olympic bronze medallist, said after progressing to the next stage.
"Everyone wants to have that trophy but, as I said, you have to play your natural game to be the best and can't really put pressure on yourself that you have to have it. If it is in your destiny you will definitely get it, but the challenge is to give your best and beat the best players," she added. B Sai Praneeth also made it to the second round and will face Hong Kong's NG Ka Long Angus.
Sameer Verma squandered a first game advantage to go down fighting 21-16 18-21 14-21 to former world champion and world no 1 Viktor Axelsen of Denmark, bowing out of the tournament.
The women's doubles pair of Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy fought a gruelling battle before losing 21-16 26-28 16-21 to seventh seeded Japanese pair of Shiho Tanaka and Koharu Yonemoto.
Sikki and Pranaav Jerry Chopra, who is coming back from an injury, lost 21-23 17-21 to Hong King's Chang Tak Ching and NG Wing Yung. The men's pair of Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy also lost 19-21 21-16 14-21 to the Chinese combination of Ou Xuanyi and Ren Xiangyu.