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Home or away, Saina Nehwal’s miserable run continues after early exit

The London Olympic bronze medallist hardly had to break sweat in the opening game though.

Saina lost to Eriko Hirose 21-16, 15-21, 11-21 after battling for 62 minutes in opening round of the Singapore Super series. (PTI) Saina lost to Eriko Hirose 21-16, 15-21, 11-21 after battling for 62 minutes in opening round of the Singapore Super series. (PTI)

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.

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.

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