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25 Sep, 2019
The opening day of the Korean Open 2019, proved to be a shocker for the Indian contingent, as everyone in the fray – with the exception of Parupalli Kashyap – either lost their opening round match or retired hurt due to an injury.
Kashyap was the only Indian left in the draw, across all events, as he overcame Taiwanese challenger Lu Chia Hung in straight games. Following an even start, Kashyap opened up a lead halfway through the opening game and despite some resistance by Hung managed to take the opening game with relative ease.
In the second game, Kashyap made a confident start only to be pegged back by the opponent but 9-8 was as close as things got. Kashyap strung together 5 straight points – spread on either side of the mid-game interval to close the game and the match in 42 minutes. A 21-16 21-16 scoreline suggests that it was easy but Kashyap did have a good workout.
Earlier in the day, B Sai Praneeth opened the campaign for the Indians against 5th seeded Anders Antonsen. Fresh from his exploits at the China Open, Antonsen burst out into the lead at 6-2, and then never looked back to close the opening game with relative ease. The second game began on a more even kneel, but Sai Praneeth pulled out of the contest trailing 7-11 at the halfway mark.
Saina Nehwal also had to retire hurt in the third game of her match against Ga Eun Kim. Having won the opening game 21-19, Saina narrowly lost second 18-21. She didn’t look all that comfortable in the third and decided to call it quits with the score at 8-1 in favor of the South Korean.
PV Sindhu going down to Beiwen Zhang was the biggest shock of the opening day. Sindhu ran away with the opening game but Beiwen came back strongly to push the World Champion into a decider and took the match in three-games. Playing for just under an hour, Sindhu lost 21-7 22-24 15-21 to end her two-week China-Korea sojourn on an underwhelming note. The fact that Sindhu was without the services of her regular coach Kim Ji Hyun, must have been one of the factors.
In the men’s doubles, both the Indian pairs that took to the courts gave the opponents a tough fight but couldn’t quite manage to cross the victory line. Sumeeth Reddy & Manu Atri came from behind to force a decider but narrowly lost to the Chinese pair Huang Kai Xiang/Liu Cheng 21-16 19-21 21-18.
Meanwhile, Satwirk Sairaj & Chirag Shetty squared off against the fourth seeds Takeshi Kamura & Keigo Sonoda of Japan. Each of the three games were tightly contested and Satwik/Chirag had their moments. Having lost the opening game, the Indian duo came back strongly but eventually succumbed 21-19 18-21 21-18.