In the ongoing OUE 2016 Singapore Super-series tournament, India’s HS Prannoy gave a huge first-round scare to world no.1 and top-seed Chen Long on Wednesday. In a closely fought deciding third game, the Chinese had to bring out all his shuttling skills to the fore before edging out the feisty Indian. However, Prannoy’s compatriot Kidambi Srikanth continued with his wretched form to make another first-round exit in a super-series event. Notable absentees in Singapore Open are Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei, China’s Li Xuerui and India’s Saina Nehwal. At the end of second day, Indian challenge in the tournament is sustained by PV Sindhu, who entered the women’s singles second round along with men and mixed doubles pair of Pranaav Jerry Chopra/Akshay Dewalkar and Pranaav Jerry Chopra/ N Sikki Reddy.
India’s HS Prannoy almost stole the first-round match from world no.1 Chen Long of China on Wednesday. The double world champion looked in all manners of trouble against Prannoy and lost the first game 18-21 after trading lead with the Indian until 12-12. At this point, Prannoy produced one winner after another to wrap up the game. In the second game, Prannoy looked like carrying the momentum from the earlier game and raced to an 8-4 lead. But the Chinese came back and yet again both players were locked at 12-12. From here, the Chinese dictated terms briefly as he went ahead 15-12 before Prannoy fought back to level scores at 18-18. Egged on by a bunch of noisy crowd, Chen Long forced the decider by winning the second game at 21-18. In the last game, Chen Long led 12-8 but once again the Indian raised his game and brought the score to 18-18 before losing two points to yield a match point. Prannoy had a big chance but his smash went wide on match point as a visibly relieved Chinese went through with an 18-21, 21-18, 21-19 victory.
Though Chen Long survived, Denmark’s no.5 seed Jan O Jorgensen was done in by Japanese old-hand Sho Sasaki. Most badminton stars are trying to meet the Rio 2016 Olympic qualification deadline of May 01, 2016 and Jorgensen would have liked to make an improvement. But Sasaki spoiled Jorgensen’s party by a 21-16, 22-20 upset win over the Danish ace. Other big stars losing their first round games were; Taiwan’s Chou Tien Chen in men’s singles and Malaysia Open women’s runner-up Tai Tzu Ying in women’s singles. The 2016 season has been unkind to India’s Kidambi Srikanth, who suffered his third straight first-round defeat in super-series tournaments. Squandering a promising start, Srikanth lost 11-21, 21-18, 21-18 against Taiwanese Hsu Jen Hao. However, PV Sindhu, Pranaav Jerry Chopra, Akshay Dewalkar and N Sikki Reddy have still kept India’s hopes alive with first round wins. On cards, Sindhu is India’s lone hope but she runs into 19-year old Swiss Open winner Chinese He Bingjiao in the second round. Sindhu defeated Thailand’s Busanan Ongbumrungphan 9-21, 21-17, 21-11 in a tough first round match. In men’s doubles Chopra/Dewalkar got past China’s Liu Cheng/Lu Kai in three hard-fought games at 21-17, 16-21, 22-20 but the Indian duo now face the formidable Indonesian pair of Mohammad Ahsan/Hendra Setiawan. Chopra also made it to the mixed doubles second round with N Sikki Reddy and the Indian combo defeated Indonesians Irfan Fadhila/Weni Anggraini 21-15, 21-17 to set up a second round clash with Chinese no.4 seeds Xu Chen/Ma Jin.
Other seeded stars sailing into second round on Wednesday were; Carolina Marin, Lin Dan and the red hot Ratchanok Intanon. But Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei, India’s Saina Nehwal and China’s Li Xuerui are skipping the Singapore event for reasons of their own. However, two women stars are making their comebacks. The promising Japanese Akane Yamaguchi and Canadian Michelle Li meet each other in the second round after winning their first-round matches comfortably.