Rio Olympics 2016: Saina Nehwal off to winning start in badminton singles
Rio de Janeiro: London Games bronze winner Saina Nehwal and two-time World Championship bronze medallist, P V Sindhu made a resounding start to their badminton campaign at the Rio Olympics but it turned out to be a dismal day for the Indian doubles players on Thursday.
Former World No. 1 Saina staved off a spirited challenge from World No. 73 Brazilian girl Vicente Lohaynny 21-17 21-17 in a women's singles match which lasted 39 minutes at the Riocentro.
The World Championship silver medallist Indian will next take on World No. 61 Maria Ulitina of Ukraine in a Group G match on August 14.
The 26-year-old from Hyderabad took 20 minutes to pocket the opening game before sealing the issue by wrapping up the second game in 19 minutes.
Ninth seed Sindhu too had a good day in office as she spanked Laura Sarosi of Hungary 21-8 21-9 in a Group M women's singles match that lasted for 27 minutes.
She will play against Glasgow Commonwealth Games champion Li Michelle of Canada on August 14 to complete the preliminary group engagements.
Sindhu didn't break any sweat against her World No. 64 rival as she took 13 and 14 minutes to wrap up the first and second games.
Earlier, the Indian combination of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa was off to a disappointing start in the women's doubles event, losing 15-21 10-21 to the World No.1 Japanese pair of Ayaka Takahashi and Misaki Matsumoto in a match which lasted 36 minutes in their Group A opener.
The Indians will next be up against the world No.11 Dutch pair of Eefje Muskens and Selena Piek in their second group clash on Friday.
In the men's doubles competition, Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy lost 18-21 13-21 to World No.2 Indonesian duo of Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan.
Manu and Sumeeth fought hard in the opening game before running out of steam. They will be facing the World No. 5 Chinese pair of Biao Chai and Wei Hong. Jwala and Ashwini opened a 4-1 lead but ended up blowing it away in no time after the Japanese pair put across some targetted deep returns which the Indians failed to judge.
The world No.1s, in contrast, were quick on their feet and returned everything that the Indians threw at them.
Jwala and Ashwini, who were struggling to coordinate their moves, trailed 8-11 at the first lemon break and could not bridge the gap even once.
The Japanese pair produced a couple of brilliant winners -- a backhand flick down the line by Matsumoto being particularly impressive -- to wrap up the opening game in 19 minutes without breaking much of a sweat.
The second game followed a similar script with Takahashi and Matsumoto racing to a 6-3 lead. The top seeds capitalised on Jwala and Ashwini's apparent lack of rhythm and managed to send down winners in open gaps.
Jwala and Ashwini were found wanting close to the net as well and ended up committing quite a few unforced errors to lose the match rather timidly.
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The support will be extended through a group/systems approach and a monthly out of pocket allowance of Rs 25,000 will be given to every TOPS athlete.
The men's doubles pair is currently apart with Shetty at his home in Mumbai and Rankireddy lodged at his base in Amalapuram in Andhra Pradesh.
Indonesia, 13-time former champions, and six-time former winner Japan will headline as the top seeds for the Thomas Cup and Uber Cup respectively.