Saina Nehwal guided the Indian eves to a dominating 5-0 win over Germany to stay on course for a knockout berth in Uber Cup, but the men’s team suffered a narrow 2-3 defeat against Hong Kong, as they stared at an early exit in Thomas Cup badminton tournament in Kunshan on Tuesday.
It turned out to be another disappointing day for the men’s team after Ajay Jayaram lost the opening singles and Rio-bound pair of Manu Attri and Sumeeth Reddy and young combo of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty also lost their respective doubles matches.
Sai Praneeth and Sourabh Verma restored some pride with thrilling victories in the second and third singles to narrow down the margin of defeat.
Later in the day, Saina and P V Sindhu enthralled the spectators with straight-game wins in the women’s singles and Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa then bounced back from a game down to eke out a win in the first women’s doubles and take an unassailable 3-0 lead.
Starting the proceedings for Indian women’s team, London Olympic bronze medallist Saina thrashed Fabienne Deprez 21-15 21-10, while World No. 10 Sindhu brushed aside Luise Heim 21-7 21-12 to give India a 2-0 lead.
2010 Commonwealth Games gold medallists, Jwala and Ashwini prevailed over Linda Efler and Lara Kaepplein 14-21 21-9 21-8 in a 41-minute clash in the first doubles to give India a 3-0 advantage.
In the last two inconsequential matches, Ruthvika Shivani Gadde trounced Yvonne Li 21-5 21-15, while N Sikki Reddy and Sindhu paired up to beat Isabel Herttrich and Franziska Volkmann 21-18 19-21 22-20 in the second doubles.
India will take on the 2014 runners-up Japan in a Group D match on Wednesday.
The Indian eves had lost 2-3 to Japan in the semifinals of the last edition.
Earlier, world number 21 Jayaram opened the proceedings for India against Ng Ka Long Angus, ranked 11th, but his fight ended with a 13-21 12-21 loss in little over half an hour.
Manu and Sumeeth, the first men’s doubles pair to qualify for Olympics, also lost the opening doubles, going down 19-21 12-21 in 32 minutes as India lagged behind 0-2.
Praneeth then took the court for the second singles and dished out a gruelling performance to edge out world number 14 Hu Yun 23-21 23-21 in a 47-minute contest.
However, the euphoria was shortlived as Satwiksairaj and Chirag went down 10-21 11-21 to Tsz Kit Chan and Cheuk Him Law in the fourth rubber.
Senior Nationals runners-up, Sourabh, who is making a comeback after a series of injuries, played out of his skin to upset world number 17 Nan Wei 17-21 21-19 21-9 in the third singles.
Indian men, who have qualified for the Thomas Cup Final only eighth times since its inception in 1948-49, will next take on Indonesia in a Group B match on Wednesday.
India had not qualified for the knockout stage till 2006.
The men’s team broke the jinx by reaching the quarterfinals in Japan.
They also reached the final eight in 2010.
In the last edition, India could not go beyond the group stage.
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