All England Open: Sindhu, Srikanth seal hard-fought wins; Saina, Praneeth make first-round exit

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All England Open: Sindhu, Srikanth seal hard-fought wins

London, March 15: India had a mixed day on Wednesday (March 14) on the opening day of the All England Championship as ace shuttlers Saina Nehwal and B Sai Praneeth made a first-round exit while PV Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth eased into the second round with hard-fought wins in their respective single's clashes.

Nehwal, who had reached the finals in the 2015 edition, suffered a defeat in straight games against World No 1 and defending champion Tai Tzu-Ying. She couldn't match up to the precision and athleticism of Tai Tzu, going down 14-21 18-21. It was Saina's eighth successive loss to the Taiwanese wizard in five years.

The 27-year-old Indian blew a 16-11 advantage in the second game, after failing to keep pace with Tai Tzu in the opening game, and bowed out of the $1,000,000 world Super 1000 tournament.

Meanwhile, Sai Praneeth was defeated by Son Wan Ho 13-21, 21-15, 21-11. After clinching the first game, Praneeth lost the advantage in the two games and suffered a first-round exit.

Sindhu, Srikanth ease into the second round:

Later in the day, third seed Kidambi Srikanth came through an absorbing first-round match against Brice Leverdez to make it to the next round. India's leading man took the best part of an hour to beat Leverdez 7-21 21-14 22-20 in Birmingham.

The Indian, making a come back to the court after an injury lay-off, lost the first game one-sided against his French opponent and came back strongly to win the second one and took it for the decider. In the third and deciding match, both the shuttlers went neck-and-neck in the third game that transformed into an intense battle which Leverdez led 20-19 at one stage.

"I'm just really happy with how it went for me," said the 25-year-old Hyderabadi shuttler.

"I think he's (Leverdez) definitely played really well and I was down match point in the third set and I would say I'm really lucky to pull this off.

"I haven't played too many tournaments in the last few months so matches like these will definitely give me a lot of confidence. I think it's definitely going to be tough when we go deeper in the tournament. I would really just like to play my best in the next round, I'm not really thinking about the quarter-finals. It's really important just to do well in the second round," he added further.

Olympic silver-medallist Sindhu had to sweat it out to record 20-22, 21-17, 21-9 win over Thailand's Pornpawee Chochuwong.

After blowing the 11-4 advantage in the opening game Sindhu, Pornpawee levelled with the Indian at 14-14 and went on winning the game 22-20.

Sindhu surged to a 14-6 and 15-7 lead in the next two games and didn't lose control despite some spirited fight by the Thai shuttler. The world number four Sindhu will now face Thailand's Nitchaon Jindapol, who defeated USA's Beiwen Zhang 21-18, 21-14, in the second round.

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    Story first published: Thursday, March 15, 2018, 1:08 [IST]
    Other articles published on Mar 15, 2018
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