Double Olympic medallist P V Sindhu was knocked out but defending champion Lakshya Sen looked in fine fettle on way to a straight-game win over compatriot HS Prannoy in the India Open in New Delhi on Tuesday. World No. 7 Sindhu, a former champion, went down 12-21 20-22 to Thailand’s world No. 30 Supanida Katethong. The Indian had lost to the same player in the semifinals of the last edition.
World No. 12 Sen, seeded seventh, settled the score against world No. 9 Prannoy after his opening round reversal at the Malaysia Open, with a 21-14 21-15 win at the KD Jadhav Indoor hall in IG stadium.
Sindhu didn’t look at her best as she struggled against the left-handed Supanida, who was precise in her returns and looked in more control in the rallies to take the opening game in the Super 750 badminton tournament.
The former world champion fought hard in the second game as she moved from 12-17 to grab one game point at 19-20. She had, in fact, left the court after the opponent’s return was called out. But a video referral showed that the shuttle had actually kissed the line, handing her opponent a chance to close the match, and she did it in style after Sindhu went wide.
Reigning champions Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty also produced a clinical display to storm into the second round after beating Scotland’s Christopher Grimley and Matthew Grimley 21-13 21-15 in their men’s doubles opener.
Commonwealth Games champion Sen will next take on Denmark’s Rasmus Gemke, who knocked out two-time world champion Kento Momota 21-15 21-11 earlier in the day.
Prannoy didn’t have a good start, committing too many unforced errors to fall behind from the start.
Sen, on the other hand, looked to attack and remained steady in the rallies, producing some good-looking winners to stay ahead at 15-9.
Sen brought down the shuttle with a thud every time it was in range, while Prannoy was erratic. Soon Sen moved to nine game points; he wasted three of them before Prannoy went to net again.
The second game looked more competitive at the start but Sen broke off at 9-9 and never looked back.
“I could settle from the beginning, get my length and defence properly. In the Malaysia Open, I wasn’t able to control the shuttle. Today my smashes and half smashes were working,” Sen said after the match.
Anup Sridhar, who has been roped in to train Sen in the Pre-Olympic year, said it is important for his ward to stick to his natural game and make a good start.
“He was a lot more confident today. We had some good sessions last week. That’s helped him. He was aggressive, attacking and taking his chances, that made the difference,” Lakshya’s new coach Anup Sridhar told PTI.
“He has corrected the mistakes that he did last week and Lakshya is an attacking player, that’s his natural style. If he starts defensive then that is not something that works. He needs an attacking start.
“This year the focus will be to stay physically fit more than anything else.” Satwik and Chirag, who had claimed a semifinal finish last week in Kuala Lumpur, will be up against either China’s Liu Yu Chen and Ou Xuan Yi or England’s Ben Lane and Sean Vendy.
“We would want to win 3-4 more events and reach world No. 3 this year. We want to win a major event like the All England Championships and better the medal at World Championships,” Chirag said.
“Our main aim is to play as deep in the tournament as possible. Last week it was a semifinal finish but now our goals have changed and, when we enter the tournament, anything less than a title gives us a bitter sweet taste.” Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand also notched up a 22-20 17-21 21-18 win over France’s world No. 29 Margot Lambert and Anne Tran in their opener. It was their first win against their opponent in last three meetings.
Among other Indians, N Sikki Reddy and her new women’s doubles partner Shruti Mishra went down fighting 17-21 19-21 to Germany’s Linda Efler and Isabel Lohau.
Earlier, former top 10 player Shi Yuqi of China staved off a challenge from Indonesia’s Chico Aura Dwi Wardoyo 20-22 21-16 21-15 and Chinese Taipei’s Wang Tzu Wei beat Ireland’s Nhat Nguyen 21-18 21-17.
Fifth seed Chou Tien Chen of Chinese Taipei prevailed 22-20 14-21 21-11 over Lee Cheuk Yiu while Zhao Jun Peng beat Weng Hong Yang 21-19 21-12 in another match.
In women’s singles, three-time former winner Ratchanok Inthanon recovered from a back injury to get the better of Malaysia’s Goh Jin Wei 21-13 21-11, and Rio Olympic champion Carolina Marin beat 2017 world champion Nozomi Okuhara 21-13 21-18.
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