Saina, Kashyap off  to a winning start

Shanghai: Saina Nehwal and Parupalli Kashyap advanced to the second round but it was rising shuttler Arundhati Pantawane who emerged as the star of the day as she registered a stunning victory over higher-ranked Japanese Eriko Hirose in the opening round of the China Super Series Premier on Wednesday.

Saina, Kashyap off  to a winning start

Ranked 47th in the world, Arundhati outclassed World No. 14 Eriko 21-14, 21-18 in a first round clash that lasted less than half an hour. The Japanese was a runners-up at the 2011 All England and 2012 Japan Open.

For top shuttler Saina, it was a relatively easy round as the sixth seed Indian, Saina overcame Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara 21-14 21-19 in a 39-minute opening match, while world number 12 Kashyap recorded his fourth victory over the eighth seeded Thai Boonsak Ponsana when he beat him 22-20 21-15 in men’s singles opening round match that lasted 46 minutes.

However, Anand Pawar could not get rid of Takuma Ueda of Japan and lost 21-18 10-21 11-21 in the first round of the men’s singles competition. Ajay Jayaram too failed to cross the first hurdle, suffering a 18-21 19-21 loss to Wan Ho Son    of Korea in a 45-minute match. Men’s doubles pair of Manu Attri and Sumeeth Reddy B too lost in the opening round, losing 14-21 6-21 to Russian combo of Vladimir Ivanov and Ivan Sozonov. Arundhati was too superior to her rival in the opening game, winning five consecutive points to take a 7-3 lead.

Hirose never could recover from that setback as the Indian comfortably took the first game.  The second game was a much more exciting affair. Although Arundhati took a 4-0 lead, the Japanese fought back to take a two-point lead at 9-7. The game continued to be closely fought before Arundhati won six consecutive points to take a 19-14. Although Eriko clawed back with four consecutive points, the Indian maintained the upper hand to clinch the issue.

In another match, Olympic Bronze medallist Saina relied on her net game to outclass Nozomi as she registered 19 net winners compared to 11 by the Japanese. The 23-year-old Indian will next take on China’s Sun Yu in the  pre-quarterfinals.

Saina, who had beaten Nozomi in Malaysia Open earlier this year, didn’t give the Japanese any chance in the first game as she jumped to a 5-2 lead and then kept extending it to zoom ahead. In the second game, Saina enjoyed a 10-6 lead but Nozomi reeled off four points to catch up with the Indian. What ensued next was a tough battle for supremacy but it was the world number seven Indian who had the last laugh in the end.

Kashyap matched his higher ranked rival with his smashes and outdid him in net play to earn a place in the second round, where he will meet Japan’s Kento Momota today. The duo fought hard for each point till 14-14 when Boonsak moved to 16-14 and managed to keep his lead, but the Indian reeled off four straight points to pocket the first game. In the second game, the Indian once again raised his game and broke free, capturing four points and three points on the trot.

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