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All England Championships: Saina Nehwal, Kidambi Srikanth enter second round

A former finalist, Saina Nehwal defeated Scotland's Kristy Gilmour 21-17 21-18 in 35 minutes, while Kidambi Srikanth took half an hour to dispose off France's Brice Leverdez 21-13 21-11 on Wednesday night.

By: PTI | Birmingham |
Updated: March 7, 2019 12:35:22 pm
Saina Nehwal Saina Nehwal vs Carolina Marin Final, Indonesia Masters 2018 Live: Saina Nehwal takes on Carolina Marin. (Source: AP)

India’s Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth made a winning start to the All England Championship, notching up straight-game victories in the women’s and men’s singles competition. A former finalist, Saina defeated Scotland’s Kristy Gilmour 21-17 21-18 in 35 minutes, while Srikanth took half an hour to dispose off France’s Brice Leverdez 21-13 21-11 on Wednesday night.

In the next round, Saina will take on Denmark’s Line Hojmark Kjaersfeldt, while Srikanth will face Asian Games gold medallist Jonatan Christie. “I really enjoy it a lot, it’s something every player looks up to and the challenge is even more tougher than regular Super Series events,” Saina, an Olympic bronze medallist, said after progressing to the next stage.

“Everyone wants to have that trophy but, as I said, you have to play your natural game to be the best and can’t really put pressure on yourself that you have to have it. If it is in your destiny you will definitely get it, but the challenge is to give your best and beat the best players,” she added.

B Sai Praneeth also made it to the second round and will face Hong Kong’s NG Ka Long Angus. Sameer Verma squandered a first game advantage to go down fighting 21-16 18-21 14-21 to former world champion and world no 1 Viktor Axelsen of Denmark, bowing out of the tournament.

The women’s doubles pair of Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy fought a gruelling battle before losing 21-16 26-28 16-21 to seventh seeded Japanese pair of Shiho Tanaka and Koharu Yonemoto.

Sikki and Pranaav Jerry Chopra, who is coming back from an injury, lost 21-23 17-21 to Hong King’s Chang Tak Ching and NG Wing Yung. The men’s pair of Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy also lost 19-21 21-16 14-21 to the Chinese combination of Ou Xuanyi and Ren Xiangyu.

PV Sindhu knocked out, B Sai Praneeth beats HS Prannoy

Fifth-seeded Sindhu, who was beaten by Sung Ji twice in last three meetings, lost 16-21 22-20 18-21, despite saving as many as eight match points in the second and third game. (File Photo)

A profligate P V Sindhu was Wednesday knocked out of the All England Championship by an industrious Sung Ji Hyun of Korea in the women’s singles opening round. In men’s singles, 2017 Singapore Open champion B Sai Praneeth defeated compatriot HS Prannoy 21-19 21-19 in a pulsating contest

Fifth-seeded Sindhu, who was beaten by Sung Ji twice in last three meetings, lost 16-21 22-20 18-21, despite saving as many as eight match points in the second and third game.

Sindhu went into the opener with an overall record of a 8-6 against Sung Ji but the Korean once again troubled the Indian in the 81-minute thrilling clash which went down to the wire.

Sindhu showed grit in the closing moments of the second and third game but also committed too many unforced errors during the match.

The Indian saved three match points at 17-20 in the second game to take the match to the decider, during which she saved five match points before suffering her fourth first-round loss at the USD 1 million event.

Sung Ji will face Hong Kong’s Cheung Ngan Yi in the second round.

“I think I could have not given her big lead at the starting. It was too many points and it was difficult to cover,” Sindhu said after the loss.

“It was my bad luck probably as my mid court smashes were going to net. I was just hitting out but overall it was good match and she played well. She has good anticipations and there were long rallies.

“I had trained enough but it was just not my day. Such matches keep happening and I have to take it as a challenge and come back stronger.”

The women’s doubles pair of Meghana Jakkampudi and Poorvisha S Ram also fought hard before losing 21-18 12-21 12-21 to the Russian combination of Ekaterina Bolotova and Alina Daveltova.

The opening clash between Sindhu and Sung Ji turned out to be a thrilling contest.

Sindhu enjoyed a 6-3 lead early on but Sung Ji drew level, helped by Sindhu’s poor judgement.

The Korean kept up the attack and entered the first interval with a lead of 11-8 after the Indian hit the net.

Sindhu dominated the rallies after the breather and drew parity at 11-11 with a cross-court smash.

However, the Indian struggled with her timing and committed too many unforced errors to allow the Korean a cushion of 16-14.

Sung Ji continued to gather points and clinched four game points. The Korean sealed it without much fuss when Sindhu struck out again.

After the change of sides, Sindhu found the going tough with Sung Ji grabbing a 11-8 advantage at the break.

After the breather, Sindhu managed to make it 13-13 with some precise returns.

Sindhu tried to put pressure on her rival in the rallies but Sung Ji remained determined and led 18-14.

Sindhu continued to struggle with her strokes and buried two of her returns into the net, giving Sung Ji a lead of 18-14.

Sindhu narrowed the deficit to 17-18 before sending another cross-court smash wide. Sung Ji grabbed three match points after that.

However, the Indian produced a razor sharp cross court return and engaged her rival in the longest rally of the match to save three points.

Sung Ji hit the net to give a game point to the Indian, who sealed it with a body smash to roar back into the contest.

In the decider, the duo engaged in some good rallies but Sung Ji again had a two-point advantage at the interval after reeling off four straight points.

The Korean kept pushing forward, moving to a 15-9 lead at one stage.

A wide shot broke her run of points but Sindhu committed a service error and followed it up with two more unforced errors to allow Sung Ji to lead 18-10.

Sung Ji soon grabbed as many as seven match points with a superb return near the net. Sindhu did save five of them but it just wasn’t enough.

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