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18 Sep, 2019
Fresh from their recent exploits at the World Championships in Basel, PV Sindhu & B Sai Praneeth won their respective opening encounters at the China Open, here in Changzhou, China.
Sindhu, the current world champion, was up against Li Xue Ri, the former Olympic champion & runner-up at the 2013 & 2014 World Championships. Having raced to a 4-0 lead in the opening exchanges, Sindhu did look a little rusty and allowed Li comeback into the contest and tie the scores at 8-8.
The Indian then managed to open up another healthy lead and had six game points in her kitty at one stage. Having squandered 4 of them, Sindhu converted the 5th and took the opening game.
It was Li who made a more confident start to the second game, opening up a 2-6 advantage. But then it was Sindhu’s turn to mount a mid-game come back as she tied the score at 7-7 and then kicked on to take the with relative ease.
The 21-18 21-12 score line perfectly illustrates the kind of workout Sindhu would have liked on the court. A total of 34 minutes on the court, a fairly straightforward win and a place in the pre-QFs – it was just about the perfect return to on-court action for the 5th seed.
In the men’s singles, B Sai Praneeth won a thrilling 3-game encounter against Suppanyu Avihingsanon from Thailand. Sai made a confident start and looked comfortable to take the opening game, before suffering from a mid-game slump that allow Suppanyu to mount a comeback. The second game was a tight affair all along as both players stayed neck-and-neck only for the Thai challenger to pip Sai t the post and force a decider.
The third game, however, was the most comfortable one for Sai as he opened up an early lead and pressed on before close the game 21-19 21-23 21-14 in an hour and 12 minutes on court.
Parupalli Kashyap also advanced into the second round with a comfortable win over Frenchman Brice Leverdez in straight games.
Playing the last match of the day on court number 2, Kashyap & Brice made a cautious start and tied at 4-4, it appeared to be a nail-biting contest. However, Kashyap then decided to push the accelerator taking five points on the bounce and grabbing the lead at the halfway mark of the first game.
Post interval, Brice did put together a string of points of his own but Kashyap was up for the challenge and closed out the game easily. The second game was a more closely contested affair where both players remained in a deadlock for the first half. But once again, Kashyap made the move post the interval to close the game and match 21-12 21-15.
In doubles action, Sikki Reddy had a mixed bag of a day as she first paired up with Pranav Jerry Chopra to take on the German pair of Mark Lamsfuss/Isabel Herttrich. Having lost the opening game Sikki/Jerry mounted a spirited challenge in the second but failed to convert their chances, eventually going down 21-12 23-12.
Sikki was back on court for the second outing of the day, this time in mixed doubles with the birthday girl Ashwini Ponnappa. The opening game against Chi Ya Cheng/Chih Chen Lee was well contested with the Indian pair managing to stay ahead most of the time. The second game followed a similar pattern before the Chinese Taipei pairing retired hurt at 21-13 11-8.
In men’s doubles action Sumeeth Reddy/Manu Atri had a tough ask of them, as they squared off against the Indonesian second seeds Mohammad Ahsan/Hendra Setiawan. The Indonesian pair opened up an early advantage and pressed home the same in the opening game, while the Indian gave it a fight in the second one. Eventually Sumeeth/Manu lost 15-21 15-21 in a match lasting 25 minutes.
Earlier in the day. Saina Nehwal also lost her opening round match up against Busanan Ongbamrungphan. Saina was the favourite going into the contest, having beaten the Thai player thrice before.
Following an even opening to the game, Ongbamrungphan took six consecutive points to leave the eight seed trailing behind. Saina, meanwhile, had the advantage at the halfway mark in the second game but couldn’t capitalize on the same, as she lost 21-10 21-17.