While ace shuttler Saina Nehwal withdrew from the $350,000 Hong Kong’s Yonex-Sunrise BWF Super-series tournament, rest of the Indian challenge faded away on the opening day itself. PV Sindhu and Ajay Jayaram were unfortunate to be drawn against top-seeded women and men’s seeds in their first round matches. While Sindhu couldn’t stand up to fire of the world champion Carolina Marin, Jayaram likewise crashed out in straight games against world no.1 Chen Long. World no.5 and sixth-seeded Kidambi Srikanth went down to China’s Tian Houwei in three games and continued with his poor show, which had cost him several tournaments recently. The third Indian in men’s singles; HS Prannoy also lost his first round match to unseeded Japanese Kenta Nishimoto in three games. In women’s doubles, Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa were thrashed by 8th seeded Korean pair of Jung Kyung Eun and Shin Seung Chan. Among other major casualties on first day, China Open champion and no.5 seed Li Xuerui lost to Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara; men’s singles second seed Jan O Jorgensen was shown the door by China’s Wang Zhengming; men’s doubles fifth seeds Japan’s Hiroyuki Endo/Kenichi Hayakawa succumbed to Taiwan’s Chen Hung Ling/Chi-Lin Wang; mixed doubles sixth seeds Chris Adcock/Gabrielle Adcock lost to unseeded Koreans Shin Baek Cheol/Yoo Jung Chae and men’s singles no.7 seed Viktor Axelsen was beaten by Japan’s Kazumasa Sakai.
Top Indian badminton stars failed to make their presence felt on the opening day the 2015 Yonex-Sunrise Hong Kong Open on Wednesday. Before the last BWF super-Series event of the year 2015 got underway at the Hong Kong Coliseum Kowloon, Saina Nehwal of India announced her withdrawal from the event. The China Open Runner-up had complaints of severe pain in her legs and it showed in her summit clash with China’s Li Xuerui last Sunday. Saina reached the top spot in world rankings in 2015 but her performance had been patchy. During the year, she was able to clinch only the India Open held in Delhi during March 24-29, 2015 and lost three major finals at All-England, World Championships and China Open. In Kowloon, India’s PV Sindhu faced world champion and no.1 seed Carolina Marin and lost in two straight games. Sindhu had beaten Marin in Denmark Open last month but at Kowloon, Marin allowed no leeway to the 20-year old Indian in the 21-17, 21-9 win in just 35 minutes.
Among men, none of three Indians could rise to the occasion and lost their first round matches. After Saina’s withdrawal, Kidambi Srikanth was India’s biggest hope but he fell to China’s Tian Houwei in three games. Houwei took the first game 21-17 but Srikanth fought back to force a decider by taking the second 21-15. The third game went neck-to-neck before the world no.10 Houwei held his nerves and edged out the Indian 24-22 to win the 73-minute duel. Like Sindhu, Ajay Jayaram was also unlucky to face top-seeded world no.1 Chinese Chen Long, who overpowered the Indian 21-17, 21-12 in 40 minutes. Jayaram did put up some resistance in the first game but couldn’t unsettle the relentless Chinese. The third Indian men’s singles entry HS Prannoy fought for three games with Japan’s Kenta Nishimoto before losing the 1-hour battle 15-21, 21-18, 6-21. India’s women’s doubles team of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa also lost 12-21, 15-21 against Korea’s no.8 seeds Jung Kyung Eun and Shin Seung Chan to signify the complete whitewash of the Indian challenge in the Super-series event.
The opening day of the Hong Kong Open saw some major surprises. China open champion Li Xuerui suffered a tame first-round loss against Japan’s rising star Nozomi Okuhara. There was a semblance of contest in the first game but after that Li fell apart to lose 19-21, 9-21 in 34 minutes. Men’s no.2 seed Denmark’s Jan O Jorgensen lost 15-21, 19-21 against world no.11 Wang Zhengming of China. Jorgensen was subdued against Zhengming in the first game and couldn’t force the decider despite trying hard in the second. Other seeded players, who fell on the opening day included; men’s doubles fifth seeds Japan’s Hiroyuki Endo/Kenichi Hayakawa, who lost a tough three-game battle 21-11, 16-21, 16-21 against Taiwan’s Chen Hung Ling/Chi-Lin Wang; mixed doubles sixth seeds Chris Adcock/Gabrielle Adcock lost 9-21, 15-21 in 24 minutes to unseeded Koreans Shin Baek Cheol/Yoo Jung Chae and men’s singles no.7 seed Viktor Axelsen lost 17-21, 10-21 to Japan’s Kazumasa Sakai.
Among notable first-round winners on Wednesday were; Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei, who defeated Indonesian no.8 seed Tommy Sugiarto 21-16, 21-15; Lin Dan struggled before beating Indonesia’s Ihsar Maulana Mustofa in three games 21-17, 15-21, 21-14 and China’s Wang Yihan, who thrashed Canada’s Michelle Li 21-14, 21-6.
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