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PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal crash out of Japan Open badminton

Hindustan Times logo Hindustan Times 21-09-2017
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The brilliant run of both PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal at the international badminton circuit was halted on Thursday as the Indians went down in straight games to their respective opponents in the women’s singles second round of the $325,000 Japan Open Superseries in Tokyo on Thursday.

Rio Olympic Games silver medallist PV Sindhu was stopped by friend-cum-nemesis Nozomi Okuhara, who defeated the Indian to advance to the quarterfinals. The Japanese girl, who was supported by a partisan crowd, took just 47 minutes to beat the fourth-seeded PV Sindhu 21-18, 21-8 at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium.

Later, Olympic champion and fifth seed here Carolina Marin got the better of Saina Nehwal, moving past the Hyderabadi 21-16, 21-13 in 43 minutes. In both the games, Saina gave a tough fight with her gritty stroke play at the start but fizzled out as the games progressed.

This was the Spanish two-time world champion’s fourth victory in eight outings against the Indian and will next take on second-seeded local player Akane Yamaguchi.

On other courts, while Kidambi Srikanth and HS Prannoy notched straight-game victories to enter the last eight of men’s singles, Sameer Verma had to bite the dust in the second round.

While eighth seed Kidambi Srikanth defeated veteran Hu Yun of Hong Kong 21-12, 21-11 in 29 minutes, HS Prannoy moved past Chinese Taipei’s Hsu Jen Hao 21-16, 23-21 in exactly an hour.

Srikanth next faces an extremely tough challenge against reigning world champion Viktor Axelsen of Denmark, against whom the Guntur-born has a 2-2 record. Also, the Dane has won the last two meetings between them.

Prannoy, on the other hand, will face Chinese second seed Shi Yuqi in the quarters, who ousted Sameer Verma 10-21, 21-17, 21-15 in an hour and four minutes. Prannoy has a 1-2 head-to-head against the World No4 Shi Yuqi.

Coming back to Sindhu’s match, this was the Hyderabadi’s fifth loss against the reigning world champion in nine outings. This year, the two shuttlers have met four times and have a 2-2 record.

However, unlike the World Badminton Championships and Korea Open Superseries finals held recently, this second-round match did not live up to its billing.

So tough has the competition been between Sindhu and Nozomi in the past, that this was only the second time in nine matches that the encounter did not proceed to the deciding third game. The first game was extremely close and topsy-turvy with the two girls exchanging the lead regularly.

But down 16-18, Nozomi suddenly found that extra bit to win five straight points and take the game away from Sindhu, something similar to what she did at the World Championships too last month in Glasgow.

The world champion, who won the Japan Open in 2015 too, demolished Sindhu in the second game. Nozomi never gave the lead away and kept extending at her will with Sindhu offering barely any resistance. Out of the 68 points played in the match, Nozomi won 42 while Sindhu could only manage 26.

Nozomi will next take on American eighth seed Beiwen Zhang against whom the Japanese has a 2-0 record.

Chopra-Sikki advance

In mixed doubles, Pranaav Jerry Chopra and N Sikki Reddy beat local pair of Yuki Kaneko and Koharu Yonemoto 21-13, 21-17 in 32 minutes to enter the quarterfinals. But a little while earlier, Indonesian fourth seeds Praveen Jordan and Debby Susanto ousted Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Ashwini Ponnappa 29-27, 16-21, 21-12 in an hour and six minutes.

PV Sindhu matches career-best ranking

Despite the loss, PV Sindhu matched her career-best spot of world No 2 as the Badminton World Federation (BWF) released its latest rankings on Thursday. Sindhu rose two spots to be behind Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu Ying. Saina Nehwal retained her spot at No 12. In men’s singles, Kidambi Srikanth also remained at No 8.

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