Star shuttler Saina Nehwal showed tremendous skill as Indian players displayed supreme performance at the World Championships on Wednesday. She along with Kidambi Srikanth and B Sai Praneeth entered the pre-quarterfinals of singles events of the competition.
After Saina brushed aside the challenge of Sabrina Jaquet in straight games and Praneeth survived a scare from Anthony Sinisuka Ginting, Srikanth steamrolled France’s Lucas Corvee to keep India in the hunt for a medal.London Olympics bronze medallist Saina hardly broke a sweat as she cruised past her Swiss rival 21-11 21-12 in just 33 minutes.
“It was a tricky match I felt. Sabrina is a formidable opponent but I am happy that I overpowered her nicely in the match,” 12th seed Saina said after the match.
“It is never easy to play first round. I have had some horrible experiences in the first round. The next rounds are not going to be easier also because you are playing tough opponents. But first round is always tough because you are stepping on the court for the first time,” she added.
“In the big stadiums, fitness plays a big role. It is important than you maintain your cool, because sometimes the shuttle goes mid court and the opponent has a very good chance to finish it off.”
Saina will next take on second seed Sung Ji Hyun, who defeated India’s Tanvi Lad 21-9 21-19. The 2010 Commonwealth Games champion has a 7-2 head-to-head record against the Korean and most recently she beat her at the Australian Open in June.
World No. 8 Srikanth also dished out a clinical performance, beating Lucas 21-9 21-17 to set up a clash with 14th seed Anders Antonsen of Denmark tomorrow.Earlier, Singapore Open champion B Sai Praneeth bounced back from a game down to outwit World No. 26 Indonesian Anthony 14-21 21-18 21-19 that lasted an hour and 12 minutes.
“It was a very tough match. The shuttles were really slow and so the rallies went longer. I was getting caught initially and he was playing very fast. I could not match him initially but slowly adjusted to his speed. He is a tough player and his game has improved a lot since I last played him.
“I am really happy to win and now I am focused on my next match,” added the World No. 19 Praneeth will take on either Germany’s Marc Zwiebler or Chinese Taipei’s Chou Tien Chen tomorrow.In women’s doubles, the Indian pair of Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy gave a mighty scare to Danish Olympic silver medallist duo of Kamilla Rytter Juhl and Christinna Pedersen before losing their second round match 22-24 21-17 15-21.
A silver medallist at Jakarta edition in 2015, Saina, who received a bye in the opening round, stamped her authority right from the start as she zoomed to a 4-0 lead before making it 11-6.
The Swiss tried her bit and came as close as 9-13 before Saina reeled off five straight points and eventually wrapped the opening game in 14 minutes.In the second game, Saina once again opened up a 5-2 lead and had a 11-7 advantage at the interval. The Indian did not take the foot off the pedal and dished out a series of body smashes to surge to victory.
On the adjacent court, Praneeth was facing the fire of Anthony, who cruised to a 8-0 lead and then jumped to a 16-6 advantage. The gap was too much for Praneeth to bridge as he lost the first game.The Indian got his bearing back and put up a better effort in the second game, reaching a 7-4 and 11-9 advantage at the break.
Leading 14-12, Praneeth had to take a medical timeout and when the game resumed, Anthony managed to grab a slender 16-15 lead but the Indian did not let the opportunity slip as he soon turned the tables on his rival to roar back into contest.
In the decider, Praneeth opened up a 6-2 lead but Anthony managed to grab a 11-9 lead at the breather. After the interval, Anthony managed to surge to a 18-12 advantage.But a gritty Praneeth erased a six-point deficit to grab two match point advantage at 20-18. Anthony saved one but the Indian sealed it next to reach the next round.Srikanth, on the other hand, didn’t have much issue getting past Lucas.
The 24-year-old from Guntur split the initial 10 points with Lucas, before changing gears to held a 11-6 lead. The Indian used his precise smashes to good use to accumulate points, moving to a 19-9 advantage.He moved to game point when Lucas faltered with a return at forecourt. The French shuttler then attempted a drop which found the net as Srikanth won the first game in 12 minutes.
Srikanth brought more power to his smashes and precision to his returns to once again surge to 11-7 lead in the second game. Lucas erased the deficit and clawed back at 15-15 but the Indian soon moved ahead and sealed the issue when his rival went wide.“That (Lucas clawing back to 15-15) was not because I was making errors, but he scored some winners. I was in control of the match and I wanted to close it fast and then after that I made sure,” said Srikanth.
“The court is a little slow, but is the same for all. But I think it is in very good condition. Small stadiums have a huge drift, so these bigger halls are always a good condition to play in. Naturally, you have to be sure of your shots and the game.”Last night, Meghana Jakkampudi and Poorvisha S Ram played their heart out before going down 21-13 16-21 8-21 to Eefje Muskens and Selena Piek of The Netherlands.Young men’s doubles pair of Arjun MR and Ramchandran Shlok also bowed out of the event after their fight ended in a 14-21 21-19 14-21 loss to Chinese Taipei combination Liao Min Chun and Cheng Heng Su.
With PTI inputs