Fuzhou (China): Ace Indian shuttlers Saina Nehwal and HS Prannoy crashed out in the second round of the China Open Super Series after suffering straight game defeats in their respective events, here today.
While Saina lost 18-21 11-21 against her Japanese nemesis and fifth seed Akane Yamaguchi in the women’s singles second round, world no. 11 Prannoy was stunned by 53rd ranked Cheuk Yiu Lee of Hong Kong 21-19 21-17 in the men’s singles event.
It was a disappointment for both Saina and Prannoy, especially after the two shuttlers had won the women’s and men’s singles titles respectively at the recently-concluded National badminton championships. Their exits leave second-ranked PV Sindhu as the lone Indian player in the fray. She will take the court later in the day against Yue Han of China.
For Saina, the match against Yamaguchi was always expected to be a tricky one considering her inferior head-to- head record against the Japanese. Before the start of today’s match, Saina trailed Yamaguchi one to three in head-to-head record with their three previous results going in the Japanese favour and the trend continued. Saina, thus, suffered her fourth defeat against Yamaguchi this year.
The London Olympic bronze-medallist, who won the title here in 2014, got off to a positive start to take a slender 11-9 lead. But Yamaguchi fought hard to pocket the first game 21-18. Down by a game, Saina’s game started to deteriorate. She lacked momentum in the second game and never looked in the mental frame to make a comeback, even as Yamaguchi comfortably took control of the proceedings. The Japanese never looked in trouble after taking the first game and did not fall behind for a single moment in the second game as she sealed the match with consummate ease in just 37 minutes.
Later in the day, world no 11 Prannoy went down fighting to less-fancied Lee in a second round clash that lasted 42 minutes. The encounter started with both Prannoy and Lee exchanging quick early points before the Hong Kong shuttler raced to a two-point lead. Prannoy tried to stage a comeback but Lee took an 11-9 lead at the interval. After the break, Prannoy tried hard to shift the momentum but never really managed to achieve that as Lee took the first game 21-19.
Prannoy played his heart out and took a slender one-point lead (11-10) at the break in the second game. But after the break, exhaustion seemed to have caught up Prannoy as the Indian struggled, enabling Lee to make a comeback and finally wrap up the contest 21-17.