Newly-crowned India Open champions, Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth continued their rampaging international run, notching up contrasting victories to enter the second round of the USD 500,000 Malaysia Open Super Series Premier, in Kaula Lampur on Wednesday.
Set to be crowned the world no. 1 on Thursday, Saina hardly broke a sweat as she dumped Maria Febe Kusumastuti of Indonesia 21-13 21-16 in women’s singles after World No. 4 Srikanth edged out England’s Rajiv Ouseph 10-21 21-15 22-24 in men’s singles.
The Olympic bronze-medallist, Saina will next take on a Chinese qualifier Yao Xue even as Srikanth set up a clash with World No.16 Tian Houwei of China on Thursday.
Interestingly, Saina and Srikanth had clinched the China Open Super Series last year, before winning the India Super Series last Sunday.
Saina produced a dominating show in the first game not giving any chance to the Indonesian after opening a huge 12-4 lead early on. At 19-13, she grabbed two straight points to seal the first game.
In the second, Maria managed a 4-2 lead but that evaporated soon as Saina took control, leading 10-6. The Indonesian clawed back at 10-10 till 15-15, before the girl from Hyderabad zoomed ahead once again.
Srikanth had beaten Rajiv at the World Championship last year and he kept his record intact today as he grabbed control of the match early on before breaking off at 7-7 in the first game.
He blasted 10 straight points to create a huge gulf which Rajiv could never breach as the Indian led 1-0.
Srikanth had the opportunity of sealing the match in the second game itself but he squandered a 6-0 early lead as Rajiv rode on a six-point burst at 13-12 to roar back into the contest.
The decider was a rollercoaster ride as Srikanth once again brought his never-say-die attitude to the fore, fighting back from 3-7 and 11-8 down to eventually edge out the England shuttler.
Srikanth has been on a roll since winning the China Open Super Series Premier last November. He reached the semifinals of the Hong Kong Open, World Super Series Finals, made it to the finals of Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold before winning the Swiss Open and India Super Series last month.
Saina too had been in red hot form, winning the Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold in January, reaching the All England final, before clinching the India Open in Delhi.
Meanwhile, Commonwealth Games champion Parupalli Kashyap and World No.17 H S Prannoy also advanced to the second round of the men’s singles.
World No.13 Kashyap got the better of South Korean Lee Dong Keun 21-15 11-21 21-14 in an hour and 11 minutes contest, while Prannoy defeated Ireland’s Scott Evans 22-20 21-18 in 40 minutes.
Prannoy will take on two-time Olympic gold medallist and five-time World champion Lin Dan.
Kashyap will face the winner of the match between Chen Long and Takuma Ueda.
Star Indian women’s doubles combo of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa prevailed over Indonesians Devi Tika Permatasari and Keshya Nurvita Hanadia 21-14 18-21 21-16 in a hard-fought 48 minutes battle.
However, Indian men’s doubles pair of Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy went down 11-21 17-21 to the Indonesian duo of Andrei Adistia and Hendra Aprida Gunawan in half an hour.