Saina Nehwal surpassed her own expectations by reaching the quarterfinals of the Yonex Sunrise Hong Kong Super-series tournament on November 24. Other Indian shuttlers joining the former world no.1 in the quarterfinals were; PV Sindhu in women’s singles and Sameer Verma and Ajay Jayaram in men’ singles. If the two Indian women could win their next matches, they will meet each other in the semifinal and that will ensure that one finalist in 2016 Hong Kong Open will be an Indian. The Yonex Sunrise Hong Kong Open is the last Super-series event before Dubai World Super-series Finals beginning on December 14 and many stars are trying to improve their world rankings by winning at Hong Kong.
After long, Saina Nehwal has won two matches in a row at a major badminton tournament. In her first round match on Wednesday, Saina thwarted a tough challenge from Thailand’s Porntip Buranaprasertsuk in almost an hour. Saina came to Hong Kong after her first-round loss at the China open last week and she looked tentative about her form and complete match fitness. But the Indian played doggedly against the Thai woman in her 12-21, 21-19, 21-17 win. Next day, Saina played another three-game match in beating Japan’s Sayaka Sato 21-18, 9-21, 21-16. Although, it wasn’t an aesthetically pleasing performance, it showed Saina had not lost the courage and determination to win. On Friday, Saina takes on Cheung Ngan Yi of Hong Kong and if she wins, she will reach the semifinals.
In contrast to Saina’s struggles, China Open champion PV Sindhu had more comfortable outings in her first two matches. After beating Indonesia’s Susanto Yulia Yosephin 21-13, 21-16 on Wednesday, Sindhu entered the quarters with a 21-10, 21-14 second round victory over Taiwan’s Hsu Ya Ching on Thursday. Sindhu’s quarterfinal opponent on Friday will be Singapore’s Xiaoyu Liang and the victory will take her to the semifinals. If both Saina and Sindhu win their quarterfinal matches, they will face one another in an all-Indian semifinal on Saturday. Irrespective of who wins that match, India will be guaranteed a place in Sunday’s final.
Besides Saina and Sindhu, India’s Sameer Verma and Ajay Jayaram have also reached the quarterfinals of the men’s singles. Sameer entered his first ever Super-series quarterfinal by beating Japan’s Kazumasa Sakai 19-21, 21-15, 21-11. For a place in the final four, the Indian will have to beat Malaysia’s Chong Wei Feng. Ajay Jayaram also made it to the quarters by defeating China’s Huang Yuxiang 21-18, 21-19. Jayaram’s quarterfinal opponent will be local hero NG Ka Long Angus. India’s only loss on Thursday was the ouster of HS Prannoy, who missed the quarterfinal bus after his 21-15, 11-21, 15-21 defeat against Malaysia’s Chong Wei Feng.
Elsewhere in the tournament, women’s world no.1 and Rio Olympic champion Carolina Marin of Spain progressed to the quarterfinals with a 21-18, 21-16 win over Hong Kong’s Yip Pui Yin. On Wednesday, Marin had defeated Thailand’s Busanan Ongbamrungphan 21-8, 21-14 in the first round. Now the Spaniard will have to counter a strong challenge by Japanese no.6 seed Akane Yamaguchi for securing a place in the semifinals. The 2016 Thaihot China Open men’s singles champion Jan O Jorgensen of Denmark survived a second-round scare on Thursday. Riding on rousing home support, Hong Kong’s Wei Nan stretched the Dane fully and even held two match points at one stage. Jorgensen had misjudged a toss from Wei Nan and stood on the brink of ouster. In the end, however, Jorgensen held his nerves and finally went through to the quarterfinal with a 19-21, 21-13, 24-22 victory.
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