Saina Nehwal bows out of All England Open

Nehwal and Sai Praneeth fell in straight games and Parupalli Kashyap retired from his tie while Lakshya Sen carried Indian hopes forward.

By Rahul Venkat ·

Indian badminton stars Saina Nehwal and B Sai Praneeth were knocked out in the first round of the All England Open on Wednesday while teenager Lakshya Sen came back from a game down to make a memorable debut at the prestigious championships.

Saina Nehwal’s lean run continues

London 2012 bronze medallist Saina Nehwal’s slump in form during an Olympic year does not bode well for Indian badminton as the star suffered an early exit yet again, falling 11-21, 8-21 to world no. 3 Akane Yamaguchi.

The Indian badminton star kept toe-to-toe with the Japanese shuttler in the initial parts, twice tying the score, at 7-7 and then 8-8, before conceding her next three points to head into the mid-game break down 8-11.

From thereon, it was a period of intense frustration for Saina Nehwal as she only managed to rack up three more points to lose the game 11-21. The second game was an even more sordid affair for the Indian badminton player as she had no answers to Yamaguchi, managing only eight points to concede the tie in just 28 minutes.

Saina Nehwal suffered an early exit in All England Open against world no. 3 Akane Yamaguchi.

Parupalli Kashyap also came undone later in the day as he retired while trailing 0-3 in the first game against Indonesian Shesar Hiren Rhustavito to exit in the first round.

Sai Praneeth falters in first hurdle

The highest-ranked Indian badminton player, B Sai Praneeth wasn’t able to impress either as he lost 12-21, 13-21 to Chinese shuttler Zhao Jun Peng in the first round.

B Sai Praneeth, who had walked off the court against Anthony Ginting at the Badminton Asia Team Championships with an apparent hamstring injury, was clearly not at his best as he was always chasing the game against Zhao Jun Peng, a player ranked 26 places below him.

The Indian badminton star could only tie the score once (at 3-3) in the first game as he kept losing ground to his opponent.

He could not do any better in the second game as well, going just one point better before losing the tie in a little over half-an-hour. Zhao Jun Peng now enjoys a 2-0 head-to-head record against the Indian badminton player.

Lakshya Sen salvages the day

Fast-rising star Lakshya Sen was the only men's singles player to sneak into the second round after he pulled off an impressive 17-21, 21-8, 21-7 comeback win over Hong Kong’s Lee Cheuk Yiu at the All England Open

The 18-year-old, who broke into the top 30 recently, was a bundle of nerves in the first game as he conceded a 7-4 lead to end up losing 17-21. However, he displayed great skills to get the better of his opponent by 13 points in the next game to come roaring back into the tie.

Lakshya Sen. Photo: PBL Media.

Lakshya Sen, who has made a habit of upstaging higher-ranked players, even beating Asian Games gold medallist Jonatan Christie at the Badminton Asia Team Championships, continued that streak in the third game as his incredible mental resolve allowed him to triumph in an hour against the world no. 18.

His next match-up is a formidable one though as he faces off against world no.7 Dane Viktor Axelsen in the second round.

Elsewhere, the women’s doubles pair of Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy caught a lucky break as their opponents, the home team of Jenny Moore and Victoria Williams retired when the Indian badminton team were leading 5-4 in the first game.

They will next face Rio 2016 gold-medallists Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi in the second round on Thursday.

Where you can watch the All England Open

The All England Open 2020 will be broadcast on Star Sports 2 HD and will also be live-streamed on Hotstar.