Top Indian shuttler Kidambi Srikanth staved off a spirited challenge from compatriot Sameer Verma to make a winning start to his campaign at the Swiss Open Super 300 tournament on Wednesday.
The fourth seeded Indian, who had claimed the title in 2015, took little over an hour to see off 2018 winner Sameer 18-21 21-18 21-11 in a hard-fought men’s singles opening round match.
World no. 13 Srikanth, an Olympic hopeful, will be up against France’s Thomas Rouxel in the Round of 16. Rouxel beat Canada’s Xiaodong Sheng 21-18 21-14 in another first round match.
Sourabh Verma also won his first round match against Switzerland’s Christian Kirchmayr 21-19 21-18. He faces eight seed Kunlavut Vitidsarn of Thailand in the Round of 16.
However, H S Prannoy made an early exit after losing to France’s Mark Calijouw 19-21 21-9 17-21 in a men’s singles first round match.
Last night, Indian mixed doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Ashwini Ponnappa notched up an upset 21-18 21-10 win over the world no 8 and second-seeded Indonesian pair of Hafiz Faizal and Gloria Emanuelle Widjaja in the opening round.
Satwik and Ashwini, who reached the semifinals of the Toyota Thailand Open Super 1000 event in January, had earlier defeated the Indonesian combination at the Yonex Thailand Open in a thrilling three-game match in January.
The world no 19 duo, who have been training under new foreign coach Mathias Boe for the last one month, will face another Indonesian pair — Rinov Rivaldy and Pitha Haningtyas Mentari — next.
The second seeded Indian pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty also won their first round men’s doubles match against Christopher Grimley and Matthew Grimley of Scotland 21-18 19-21 21-16.
Another Indian shuttler, Pranaav Jerry Chopra, who was returning to action after a COVID-19 pandemic break, didn’t have a good outing as he along with his mixed doubles partner N Sikki Reddy lost 18-21 15-21 to the third-seeded English pair of Marcus Ellis and Lauren Smith in 39 minutes.
Swiss Open is the first event of the extended Olympic qualification period which will end on June 15.