Returning to action after a week’s break, Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth made positive starts to their campaign at the Japan Open Super Series, advancing to the second round with contrasting wins.
Saina, who bagged a bronze medal at World Championship, had skipped the Korea Open due to a slight thigh strain. She took 39 minutes to dispatch Thailand’s Pornpawee Chochuwong 21-17 21-9 in the women’s singles opening round.
London Olympics bronze medallist Saina will take on reigning Olympic champion Carolina Marin in the next round. Saina has a 4-3 record against the Spaniard, having lost thrice in the last four meetings.
Srikanth, who had won titles at Indonesia and Australia, also dished out a superlative performance to overcome China’s Tian Houwei 21-15 12-21 21-11 to improve his 1-6 record against the World No. 10.
The eighth seeded Indian, who had reached the finals at Singapore Open, will face Hong Kong’s Hu Yun next. The World No. 8 Indian has a 2-2 head-to-head count against Yun, having lost twice in 2015.
US Open Grand Prix Gold Champion H S Prannoy and Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold winner Sameer Verma also advanced to the second round with straight-game wins over their respective opponents in men’s singles here.
While Prannoy got the better off Denmark’s Anders Antonsen 21-12 21-14, Sameer took 40 minutes to subdue Thailand’s Khosit Phetpradab 21-12 21-19 in another match.
Prannoy will now take on the winner of the match between Chinese Taipei’s Hsu Jen Hao and Hong Kong’s Ng Ka Long Angus, seeded sixth.
Sameer, on the other hand, will square off against either France’s Brice Leverdez or second seed Chinese Shi Yuqi in the next round.
Sameer’s elder brother, Sourabh, however, bowed out of the tournament after his fight against seventh seed and two- time Olympic gold medallist Lin Dan of China ended with a 21-11 15-21 13-21 loss.
Singapore Open champion B Sai Praneeth also found the going tough as he went down fighting to Lee Dong Keun of Korea 23-21 17-21 14-21 in a thrilling contest.
Fast-rising doubles player Satwiksairaj Rankireddy also advanced to the mixed doubles second round alongwith experienced Ashwini Ponnappa after defeating Thai pair of Tinn Isriyanet and Pacharapun Chochuwong 21-17 21-13.
However, Satwik and his men’s doubles partner Chirag Shetty couldn’t get across third seeds Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo of Indonesia, going down 25-27 15 -21 in another pulsating contest.
Experienced men’s doubles pair of Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy also crashed out after losing 18-21 15-21 to eighth seeds Lee Jhe-Huei and Lee Yang of Chinese Taipei, while third seeded Korean Chang Ye Na and Lee So Hee ended Ashwini and N Sikki Reddy’s stay with a 21-17 21-12 win in women’s doubles event.