India Open 2018: Defending champion PV Sindhu advances into semis; Saina Nehwal, B Sai Praneeth crash out
PV Sindhu remained in hunt to defend her title by reaching the women's singles semi-finals but Saina Nehwal, the other top home shuttler, was knocked out of the India Open
New Delhi: Top seed PV Sindhu remained in hunt to defend her title by reaching the women's singles semi-finals but Saina Nehwal, the other top home shuttler, was knocked out of the India Open on Friday.
Saina, who reached the finals at Indonesia Masters last week, looked a little sluggish in her movement and committed too many unforced errors to go down 10-21, 13-21 to World No 11 American Beiwen Zhang.
Olympic silver medallist Sindhu, however, recovered from a mid-game slump to outwit Spain's World No 36 Beatriz Corrales 21-12, 19-21, 21-11 in the other quarter-final.
The World Championship silver medallist will next face 2013 World champion and World No 3 Thai Ratchanok Inthanon.
Mixed doubles pair of N Sikki Reddy and Pranaav Jerry Chopra, who had reached the semi-finals at Japan Open last year, entered the final four again after beating Chinese combo of Han Chengkai and Cao Tong Wei 21-8, 21-13.
"We are not as physically strong as Asians, so after coach Kim Tan Her joined, he told us we are not supposed to play the Asian style of game and rather should focus on playing the European style of play and it has helped us, said Pranaav after the match.
The eighth seeded Indian duo will face fifth seeded Danish combo of Mathias Christiansen and Christinna Pedersen, who beat Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Ashwini Ponnappa 21-17, 21-11 in another match.
Meanwhile, it turned out to be a disappointing day for Indian men's singles players as Parupalli Kashyap, B Sai Praneeth and Sameer Verma suffered straight game losses to their respective opponents to bow out of the tournament.
Commonwealth Games champion Kashyap seemed a bit tired and couldn't keep up with China's Qiao Bin, losing 16-21, 18-21 in the men's singles quarter-finals.
Eighth seed Praneeth, who had clinched the Singapore Open last year, too failed to negotiate the fast-paced game of third seed Taiwanese Chou Tien Chen and went down 15-21, 13-21 in another quarter-final.
Later, Sameer also found the going tough against Malaysian qualifier Iskandar Zulkarnain, who had knocked out former champion Kidambi Srikanth on Thursday. His 49-minute fight ended with a 17-21, 14-21 scoreline in the end.
However, the biggest upset of the day was produced by Hong Kong's Cheung Ngan Yi, who knocked out Olympic champion Carolina Marin, who had reached the finals of the Indian Open last year, 21-12, 21-19 in a 48-minute clash.
Marin later complained about poor umpiring, saying the chair umpire was allowing changing the shuttle at his own will and acted as a protagonist.
Sindhu dished out an attacking game to walk away with the opening game without much ado but Corrales came back in the second to lead 19-11 at one stage.
Sindhu, however, grabbed eight of the next nine points to make it 19-20 but a lucky net chord kept the Spaniard alive in the match in the end.
In the decider, Sindhu once again showed her class as she zoomed to an 11-6 advantage at the lemon break.
Corrales, who trains in Italy, tried to make a comeback but the Indian ensured there are no more hiccups as she used her disguised returns to bamboozle the Spaniard.
A towering jump smash gave Sindhu 10 match points. Corrales won a long rally but the Spaniard hit long to hand over the match to Sindhu.
"I came back in the second game but there was a lucky net chord or else it could have been straight game. Overall it was a good game. At 16-9 in the second game nothing was going for me.
After that when I was getting a few points I was feeling confident but luck was on her side," said Sindhu.
"In the third game, I was confident right from the start and I maintained the lead and finished it comfortably."
Talking about her match against Ratchanok, Sindhu said, "Definitely, it is not going to be easy. She is a tricky player. Last time I played her at Hong Kong. I have to give my best to win."
In another match, Saina looked completely out of sort in the opening game as a series of unforced errors saw her lag 0-6 behind before entering the interval at 5-11.
Zhang continued to dominate the rallies after the breather and grabbed the opening game when the Indian netted.
Saina changed gears in the second game as her movements became better and she constructed the rallies well to move 9-9 together with the American. But Zhang again held a 11-9 held after unleashing a smash on Saina's forehand.
After the break, Zhang again looked ominous as Saina struggled and eventually bowed out after hitting long.
Among others, top seeded Indonesian Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo shut out the fighting Indian men's doubles pair of Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy 21-19, 21-19, while sixth seeded women's doubles pair of Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy lost 17-21, 21-23 to Chinese pair of Du Yue and Li Yinhui.
Seventh seeded Indian combo of Jakkampudi Meghana and Poorvisha S Ram lost 10-21, 15-21 to second seeded Thai pair of Jongkolphan Kititharakul and Rawinda Prajongjai.
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