HS Prannoy and Saina Nehwal – India’s newly crowned National Champions – joined the exodus of Indian shutter from the China Open Super Series, losing their respective second-round matches .
Prannoy lost to Hong Kong’s Cheuk Yiu Lee 19-21, 17-21 in a match that lasted just 42 minutes while Saina went down to Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi 18-21, 11-21.
Former World No 1, Saina Nehwal, who had won this tournament in 2014, was the most impressive of the three Indian victors on Wednesday, almost contemptuously dismissing the challenge of American Zhang Beiwen, ranked just one place behind her .
However, on Thursday morning, the Indian ace, who won her third national crown at Nagpur last week, came a cropper against the 20-year-old fifth-seeded Japanese dynamo, Akane Yamaguchi, against whom she had a poor 1-3 record going into the match. Nehwal’s 18-21, 11-21 reverse against Yamaguchi meant that she has lost all the four matches the two have played this year.
Saina who started the game really well failed to impose her authority on the opponent, as Akane took complete control of the game and never allowed Saina to make a comeback into the match. Saina made all the running in the first game as she raced to a 3-1 lead, Yamaguchi fought her way back to reduce the deficit to one point.
The Indian shuttler, however, managed to take an 11-9 lead at the interval. After the interval, World no 4 Yamaguchi came back with a bang as Saina struggle to read her deceptions. It was a closely fought contest between the two before the Japanese took the game 21-18.
At the start of the second game, Saina lacked momentum and she fell behind the Japanese shuttler. At 11-8, the game was firmly in Yamaguchi’s grasp and she did not slip up to clinch the game and the match.
Prannoy — who recently acquired his highest ever BWF ranking of 11 — lost to China’s Cheuk Yiu Lee who is ranked 53 in the world. Lee thumped Prannoy is straight games and won the match 21-19, 21-17 in just 42 minutes to progress.
The game started with both shuttlers exchanging quick points between them before Lee took a two-point lead over Prannoy. The Indian tried to stage comeback b, but Lee took an 11-9 lead at the interval. After the break, Prannoy tried to changed gear as he fought hard to gain one point lead. The momentum kept on swinging between the two but Lee prevailed over Prannoy to take the first game 21-19.
In the second game, Prannoy staged a comeback to take a slender one-point lead (11-10), but Lee came back strong after the break as the Indian National Champion looked tired. The world number 53 finally went onto to win the game 21-17.
Later on Thursday evening, Sindhu will clash with Chinese qualifier Han Yue, against whom this will be her first meeting. The 17-year-old Han, ranked a lowly 105th on the BWF computer, hardly broke sweat as she beat Canada’s 20-year-old Brittney Tam, born of Chinese immigrant parents, with a 21-10, 21-7 verdict. Sindhu will not have matters her own way against the ambitious Chinese teenager, as she struggles to keep the Indian pennant aloft.
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