All England Championships: Saina Nehwal breezes past defending champion Nozomi Okuhara, Kidambi Srikanth ousted
Saina Nehwal will face German qualifier Fabienne Deprez in the next round while PV Sindhu takes on Indonesian Dinar Dyah Ayustine.
Birmingham: Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu and HS Prannoy advanced to the second round of the All England Open Badminton Championships which began at the Barclaycard Arena on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Kidambi Srikanth, Ajay Jayaram and the men's doubles pair of Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy put up below-par performances to exit the tournament.
However, India's two biggest hopes, Saina and Sindhu won easily in their first round matches. Sixth seed Sindhu eased past Danish Mette Poulsen with a 21-10, 21-11 victory in 29 minutes.
In the second round, the 2016 Olympic silver medallist will meet Indonesian Dinar Dyah Ayustine, who moved past Danish qualifier Natalia Koch Rohde 21-19, 22-20.
Eighth seed Saina battled past World No 11 and defending champion Nozomi Okuhara of Japan 21-15, 21-14 in 38 minutes. Saina will face German qualifier Fabienne Deprez in the next round. In the men's singles category, only Prannoy managed to progress to the second round, defeating China's Qiao Bin 17-21, 22-20, 21-19 in a men's singles match that lasted an hour and 22 minutes.
Next, Prannoy will face Chinese seventh seed Tian Houwei, who registered a 21-19, 21-18 win over Tommy Sugiarto of Indonesia.
World No 19 and double Dutch Open winner Jayaram lost to China's Huang Yuxiang 19-21, 17-21 in 35 minutes. Srikanth also crashed out, losing to Chinese Zhao Junpeng 19-21, 21-19, 12-21 in 57 minutes. India also fared badly in the doubles competitions. Attri and Reddy suffered a first-round exit at the hands of qualifiers Peter Briggs and Tom Wolfenden, who won 21-19, 10-21, 21-18 in 47 minutes.
There was also a huge upset in this category, with Danish second seeds Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen being stunned by Lu Kai and Zheng Siwei of China. The Indian women's doubles pair of Jakkampudi Meghana and Poorvisha S Ram lost to Chinese Taipei's Hsu Ya Ching and Wu Ti Jung 19-21, 12-21 in 31 minutes.
Saina Nehwal had to concede her match after losing the first game 20-22 against Spain's Clara Azurmendi as she developed discomfort in her groin area.
Meanwhile, the men's team, which is already through to the quarter-finals, suffered a 1-4 defeat in their last group match, setting them up against Denmark in the last-eight stage
With Saina Nehwal and the Chirag Shetty-Satwiksairaj Rankireddy pair back in the team, India will look to forget the Sudirman Cup disappointment and produce a strong performance in the men's and women's team events