While Saina Nehwal continued to progress, PV Sindhu and all other Indians in men’s singles and women’s doubles have already exited the 2015 Thaihot China Open. Saina’s form has looked below par but she has still managed to reach the round-of-eight. Sindhu was a bit unlucky to be pitted against the articulate Wang Shixian in the second round. Regardless, the 20-year old Indian fought tooth-and-nail before losing to the Chinese. Every Indian contender in men’s singles and Jwala Gutta/Ashwini Ponnappa lost in their first round matches. Other high-rank players in men and women singles categories made expected progress.
Women’s reigning China Open champion Saina Nehwal began her 2015 campaign with a somewhat labored first round victory over China’s Sun Yu. In the second round Saina ran into Malaysia’s Tee Jing Yi, who didn’t allow the Indian too much liberty in second and third games despite losing the first 10-21. The Malaysian raised her game even as Saina lapsed into several unforced errors. Fighting hard, Jing Yi forced the decider by winning the second game 21-19. The third game was fought on equal terms and Jing Yi looked like a better player early in the decider. However, the top-seeded Indian held her nerve and won at 21-10, 19-21, 21-19 to enter the quarterfinals. On Friday, Saina will take on rising Japanese star, Nozomi Okuhara, who scored an easy 21-16, 21-7 win over China’s Chen Xiaoxin in her second round match. On first day, Okuhara had caused a major upset by beating no.8 seeded Thai star Ratchnok Intanon. Saina will have to play at her best to keep the Japanese at bay on Friday.
In the longest match played on Thursday, Indian star PV Sindhu showed her guts in the second-round against China’s no.5 seed Wang Shixian before bowing out. Sindhu had entered the second round by defeating Russia’s Ksenia Polikarpova 21-14, 21-9 but the draw had made her face Shixian next. Not to be outdone, Sindhu fought on equal terms and won the first game 21-18. Fierce battle ensued in the second game with no player ready to yield her ground. The Chinese forced the decider by taking the second game 21-18. The third game also looked evenly fought but Shixian scored some crucial points and took the 88-minute match away from Sindhu at 18-21, 21-18, 21-16.
2014 men’s defending champion and no.5 seeded Kidambi Srikanth looked totally off-color in his first round match against Hong Kong’s unseeded Hu Yun. Srikanth lost 12-21, 18-21 in just 38 minutes. Ajay Jayaram was unfortunate to face world no.1 and top-seed Chen Long in his first round match. Jayaram succumbed to a 12-21, 11-21 loss in 35 minutes. The last Indian in the draw was HS Prannoy, who faced Chinese qualifier Guo Kai in the first round on Wednesday. After losing the first game 14-21, Prannoy played far better in the second and forced the decider. However, the 21-year old Chinese fought and finally won the match 21-14, 17-21, 21-19. It was the same story for India in women’s doubles, where the combo of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa suffered a 16-21, 11-21 first-round loss against the Japanese Naoko Fukuman/Kurumi Yonao.
Other stars playing in this year’s China Open made expected progress. In men’s field, apart from Chen Long, Lin Dan, Jan O Jorgensen and Viktor Axelsen have already booked their placed in the quarterfinals. Among women, world champion Carolina Marin had two easy matches and she is already in the round-of-eight with Wang Shixian, Wang Yihan, Li Xuerui, Sung Ji Hyun and Tai Tzu Ying. With the presence of top stars in the quarterfinals, Friday’s games are likely to yield interesting duels as everyone would aspire to reach the semifinals.
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