Sindhu advances in Hong Kong Open, Nehwal suffers early elimination

India’s Sameer Verma also slumps to a first-round defeat against Wang Tzu Wei.

By Saurabh Shankar ·

India’s top-ranked female shuttler PV Sindhu brushed aside the challenge of South Korean Kim Ga Eun, winning in straight games (21-15, 21-16) to advance to the second round of the 2019 Hong Kong Open Super 500 to add to Tuesday’s positive results.

Sindhu’s triumph though was the only Indian shuttler to prevail on Wednesday morning as both Saina Nehwal and Sameer Verma slumped to first-round defeats in the competition.

The nation’s top-ranked men’s singles player Srikanth Kidambi also fights on in the Hong Kong Open as he was given a walkover with opponent Kento Momota of Japan pulling out of the competition. India’s HS Prannoy also made a winning start to the competition and now faces Indonesia’s Jonatan Christie in the next round.

Cruising through

Reigning world champion PV Sindhu struggled to get going as it was her South Korean counterpart who started off better in the first game. Kim Ga Eun held a slender 11-10 lead heading into the interval, with Sindhu misjudging a few of her shots early on.

Post-interval though, the 24-year-old Indian was all guns blazing as she allowed her opponent to gain only four more points in the game. Sindhu effortlessly stretched the play, making the Ga Eun run all around the court and forced her into playing weak returns. The Indian’s superiority reflected in the scoreline as she clinched the first game 21-15.

The second game started off as a cagey affair with the game deadlocked at three points apiece.

Sindhu then adopted an aggressive approach hitting hard cross-court smashes to gain the ascendency.

The Indian shuttler also began playing closer to the net, punishing her opponent for any loose shots, picking up seven points on the trot to claim a 12-5 lead. Ga Eun struggled to mount a fightback after that as Sindhu sealed the match with a 21-16 win in the second game. She will now face Busanan Ongbamrungphan of Thailand in the next round.

India’s Saina Nehwal lost in straight games against Cai Yan Yan of China in the Hong Kong Open

Nehwal, Verma bow out

Barring the French Open quarterfinals finish, it has been a torrid few months for India’s Saina Nehwal who has suffered early eliminations in most tournaments this year. That trend continued in the Hong Kong Open as well with the 2012 London Games bronze medallist suffering a straight games defeat against China’s Cai Yan Yan in the opening round.

Nehwal struggled to find her groove in the first game, as Yan Yan raced away to an 11-2 lead at the interval. At no point in the first game was the Indian able to get into a lead as she struggled to consolidate her serve, winning three consecutive points at best. Following that good start, the Chinese shuttler was relentless as she claimed a comfortable 21-13 win in the first game.

After losing the first game, Nehwal responded brilliantly as she quickly secured a 3-0 lead in the second, but Yan Yan fought back winning the next two points. Yan Yan then showed her class when she picked up seven points on the trot to once again hold the upper hand in the tie.

Nehwal fought back well after the interval to make for a nervy finish with the second game in a deadlock at 19 points apiece. The World No. 9 took the next point but could not consolidate her position though as Yan Yan struck back to clinch the match 21-13, 22-20. She now faces Beiwen Zhang of the USA in the next round.

There was further disappointment for India’s shuttlers as Sameer Verma was defeated 21-11, 13-21, 21-8 by Chinese Taipei’s Wang Tzu Wei. After losing the first game, Verma showed great resilience to fight back and win the second 21-13 but lost steam by the decider, going down meekly.

Mixed results for Indians

Meanwhile, it took India’s HS Prannoy just 44 minutes to get past his first-round opponent Huang Yu Xiang of China. The 27-year-old beat his opponent with a score of 21-17, 21-17 to set up a clash against sixth seed Jonatan Christie of Indonesia in the next round.

Compatriot Parupalli Kashyap will join Prannoy in the second round after his victory over Japan’s Kenta Nishimoto in three games. The Indian shuttler won the first game 21-18 but dropped the second 16-21 to set up a decider.

Midway through the game, the players were separated by just a point, but a 13-3 run from Kashyap helped him see off the Japanese and enter the second round. Sourabh Verma, too, emerged victorious in his first round match against French shuttler Brice Leverdez by a scoreline of 21-11, 21-15.

B Sai Praneeth went down fighting against third-seed Yu Qi Shi 21-11, 18-21, 12-21 while in the mixed doubles, Ashwini Ponnappa and N. Sikki Reddy were beaten 13-21, 12-21 by Danish duo Maiken Fruergaard and Sara Thygesen.