Denmark Open: Nehwal, Srikanth bow out in opening round

The London 2012 bronze medallist lost her first-round match to Sayaka Takahashi of Japan in straight games.

India’s badminton stalwarts Saina Nehwal and Srikanth Kidambi endured a rather off day on court as they bowed out of the 2019 Denmark Open Super 750 event on Wednesday.

While Nehwal was no match for Sayaka Takahashi of Japan in her opening round, Kidambi couldn’t match the pace of Denmark’s Anders Antonsen in his first-round tie.

Nehwal, the 2012 London Olympics bronze medallist, lost her tie 15-21, 21-23, while Kidambi was on the receiving end of a 14-21, 18-21 score.

Cagey start

Up against the world number 12, Takahashi, Saina started off on a cautious note as the two exchanged initial points. While Nehwal banked on her powerful stroke play, Takahashi made good use of the court, making her opponent chase for her returns.

Though this went on until the mid-game interval, the Japanese upped the tempo post the break and took the game to Nehwal with some smart shot selections. Leading the game 11-8 at the break, Takahashi won points in bulk as she notched up an 18-11 lead before closing the game 21-15.

Sayaka Takahashi of Japan was in control of the tie as she beat India’s Saina Nehwal in the opening round of the Denmark Open.
Sayaka Takahashi of Japan was in control of the tie as she beat India’s Saina Nehwal in the opening round of the Denmark Open.Sayaka Takahashi of Japan was in control of the tie as she beat India’s Saina Nehwal in the opening round of the Denmark Open.

Showing resistance

Leading by a game, Takahashi was once again on the money as she probed Nehwal with some quality badminton. The Japanese ensured that she engaged the 29-year-old Indian in long rallies, forcing her into making mistakes that handed her some points. 

The Japanese went into the mid-game interval with her nose ahead, but it was far from done as Nehwal displayed her quality to take the tie deep into the second game. The Indian won four points with a match point against her, but couldn’t deny Takahashi the second time as she progressed further in the competition with a fine win.

Srikanth struggles

Later, Kidambi too found it difficult to find a way to stay in the contest against World No. 4 Antonsen. Though the Indian tried to stay in the tie in the initial exchanges, there was no stopping the Dane once he had settled into his rhythm.

Antonsen used his smashes to good effect to have his opponent in trouble time and again. And with Kidambi playing into the Danish 22-year-old’s hand with his unforced errors, it was no surprise that Antonsen went into the mid-game interval with an 11-8 lead.

India’s Srikanth Kidambi found it hard to find a way past Anders Antonsen losing the tie in straight games. 
India’s Srikanth Kidambi found it hard to find a way past Anders Antonsen losing the tie in straight games. India’s Srikanth Kidambi found it hard to find a way past Anders Antonsen losing the tie in straight games. 

There on, it was just a matter of time before Antonsen could complete the formalities and take the opening game 21-14.

The second game too followed a similar script as Antonsen stuck to his plan and had the Indian in trouble time and again. But this time Kidambi did manage to fight back midway through the game as he closed in on his opponent with five points on the bounce. 

But that was the best Kidambi could produce as his opponent closed the game to win the match.

Verma wins

Earlier in the day, Sameer Verma won his opening round match against Japan’s Kanta Tsuneyama in straight games to progress further in the competition. The Indian won the tie 21-11, 21-11 in just under 30 minutes.

Meanwhile in the mixed doubles, Pranaav Jerry Chopra and N Sikki Reddy also advanced at the Denmark Open with their 21-16, 21-11 win over Marvin Seidel and Linda Efler.

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