India’s ace shuttler Saina Nehwal’s poor form in the international arena continued as she crashed out of the USD 300,000 Singapore Super Series after losing to Eriko Hirose of Japan in a hard-fought three-game battle in her opening round women’s singles match in Singapore on Wednesday.
However, other Indians in the fray — B Sai Praneeth, H S Prannoy and P C Thulasi — advanced to the second round of the tournament after registering contrasting victories on the opening day of the main draw.
World No. 8 Saina fought for an hour and two minutes before losing 21-16 15-21 11-21 to her lower ranked Japanese rival. The London Olympic bronze medallist hardly had to break sweat in the opening game though.
Dominating from the word go, the Hyderabad-based shuttler opened up a 5-2 lead and eventually extended it to 13-4, before wrapping it up 21-16 in style. Saina, seeded seventh, started the second game also well as she took a 4-2 lead. But the Japanese quickly got her act together and from tied 4-4 position, she surged ahead to 10-4.
Thereafter, the Indian was always on the backfoot and was playing the catching-up game. Hirose finally stole the game 21-15 to take the match to the decider. In the final game, the Japanese straightaway moved up 5-0 and continued to maintain a comfortable cushion to seal it off comfortably in the end.
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In other women’s singles first round matches, Arundhati Pantawane fought hard before going down to another Japanese Shizuka Uchida 21-16 11-21 15-21 in just over an hour, while top seed and Olympic champion Li Xuerui of China made mincemeat of Tanvi Lad during her 21-6 21-11 win.
However, P C Thulasi notched up a 21-13 21-16 victory over New Zealand’s Anna Rankin to set up a second round clash with world number two Chinese Yihan Wang, who was the runners-up at the India Super Series last week.
Praneeth, Pranoy advance
Earlier in the day, world number 45 Praneeth defeated Malaysia’s Mohamad Arif Abdul Latif 21-13 21-15 in half an hour in a men’s singles match. H S Prannoy, too, produced a good performance to prevail over Thailand’s Thammasin Sitthikom 21-17 14-21 21-11 in another men’s singles match at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.