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All England Championship: Sindhu advances; Saina, Srikanth crash out

Birmingham, March 12: India's P V Sindhu made a confident start at the All England Open, beating American Beiwin Zhang in straight games, but her compatriots Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth bowed out after first round defeats in Birmingham on Wednesday (March 11).

The sixth seed and world number six Sindhu got the better of the American, ranked eight places below her, 21-14 21-17 in 42 minutes.

The second game was a close affair with the two players locked at 16-16. Sindhu, however, won five points in a row after it became 17-all to clinch the issue.

It was the 10th meeting between the two players with Sindhu improving the head-to-head record to 6-4. The last time they met was at the Korea Open where the American won in three sets. She will next face Korea's Sung Ji Hyun.

Later in the day, it was curtains for Saina and Srikanth as they crashed out of the first round of All England Championships, while Sai Praneeth and Parupalli Kashyap also joined them out of the tournament.

Saina and Srikanth, who are still in the hunt for a Olympic berth, had extremely tough first round matches.

Srikanth lost in straight games to the Chinese world number five Chen Long. The Indian lost 15-21 16-21 in 43 minutes.

Saina, meanwhile, was completely dominated by former world No.1 Akane Yamaguchi of Japan and lost in straight games 11-21, 8-21 in just 28 minutes.

Sai Praneeth also went down in straight games to world No.36 Zhao Jun Peng 12-21, 13-21 in mere 33 minutes, while Kashyap retired just after a minute into the game against Indonesia's Shesar Hiren Rhustavito.

Rising star Lakshya Sen, however, advanced to the second round in his maiden appearance at the tournament. Women's doubles pair of Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy also progressed.

Ashwini-Sikki advanced to the second round with the scoreline reading 5-4 in the first game as their English opponents Jenny Moore and Victoria Williams retired hurt after just five minutes of play. They will next be up against seventh seed Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi.

Sen, on the other hand, registered a come-from-behind win against higher-ranked Lee Cheuk Yiu of Hong Kong. He won 17-21, 21-8, 21-17 in just a minute less than an hour. He will next be up against former world champion Viktor Axelsen of Denmark.

Meanwhile, the mixed doubles pair of Pranaav Jerry Chopra and N Sikki Reddy also bowed out after they lost 13-21, 21-11, 17-21 to top-seeded Chinese pair of Si Wei Zheng and Ya Qiong Huang.

(With PTI inputs)

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Story first published: Thursday, March 12, 2020, 9:03 [IST]
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