On the weight of past results,PV Sindhu shouldnt have posed too much of a challenge to Chinas Yao Xue,her first round opponent in the India Open Super Series. On the only occassion the two had played prior to their encounter on Wednesday a year and a half ago at the 2011 China Open the 23-year-old Chinese,a strapping six feet tall and built along the same lines as compatriots Wang Yihan and Li Xerui,had blitzed past the then 16-year-old Indian. Yao Xue had given away just nine and 12 points in two games.
Sindhu though,had grown since then an inch and a half physically and in her all round game as well. Two wins against former world No. 1 Chinese Xerui and Wang Shixian have followed since then and more importantly,she appears to be constantly learning. I have more strokes and I am better defensively, said the Indian after winning a 47-minute long,three game encounter 17-21 21-18 21-14.
The game,however,started with Xue bossing the Indian around. Winner after winner was fired and Sindhu came under severe pressure,conceding a 12-6 lead. The Chinese dominated from the net as well as Sindhu was repeatedly caught on the wrong foot. Xue was forcing the pace of the game,and Sindhu was always trailing and making mistakes as well. I wasnt decisive enough in the first game and because of that I was giving away too many negatives, she said. Sindhu appeared subdued and that apparently was the reason for and not the symptom of her struggle. At the game break,coach Gopichand animatedly gestured to her. The talk wasnt just about her lack of movement or her strokes he asked her to get more aggressive. He asked me to shout out a bit more,and that helped, said Sindhu who scripted a turnaround.
Suddenly it was the Chinese who was struggling as the Indian stepped to and away from the net. Using flicks and drop shots to throw Xue off rhythm and balance,she also used full blooded smash to kill points off. The pressure caused the Chinese to lose points poor judgment on a line call saw her fall back 18-17 and luck too seemed to desert her as a Sindhu drive on game point clipped the net cord and tumbled onto her side of the court. By the third game,Sindhu was well in charge. While Xue would continue to hit the odd smash winner,Sindhu was returning most of the shots. The Indian also had near complete control of the net. The match won,Sindhu has another Chinese at hand: Sun Yu. Unlike Xue,Sindhu enjoys a 1-1 record against her with a win in their most recent game the quarterfinal of at the Asian Junior Badminton Championships. That record already seems to give her an advantage and gets her closer to a potential quarterfinal against Saina,who won her first round match 21-12 21-15 against Indonesias Baelatrix Manuputi. Sindhu,however,advised caution. I want to take it one match at a time, she said. I have to think about the second round first,before thinking of the quarterfinal, she said.
Parupalli Kashyap went down fighting to former World No. 1 Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia in the first round of the mens singles event. Kashyap,the fifth seeded Indian,fought hard but failed to prevail over the more experienced Taufik. Kashyap lost 21-13 21-23 18-21 in a battle that lasted exactly an hour. The defeat meant that Kashyap has never beaten Taufik in the seven times they have played each other. In what turned out to be a surprise match of the day,Srikanth beat Jan O Jorgensen 21-7 18-21 21-12 in 45 minutes. The unseeded Indian hit as many as 33 smash winners compared to 17 by the fourth seeded Jorgensen.