Saina Nehwal began her quest for a maiden All England Open title with a thunderous victory at the Barclaycard Arena on Wednesday. On the men’s side, her compatriots Kidambi Srikanth and Parupalli Kashyap had a nightmarish start to crash out of the men’s singles competition in the first round.
However, the good news for India at the All England Open came from the men’s doubles pair of Manu Attri and B. Sumeeth Reddy. The Indian duo upset seventh seeded Chinese pair of Chai Biao and Hong Wei in three games. Doubles continued to bring joy for Indian fans as Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa too won their opener in women’s doubles.
Saina Nehwal Wins Opener
World number three Saina Nehwal kicked off her campaign at the All England Open with an easy 21-8, 21-12 win over Indonesian Bellaetrix Manuputty. Saina had beaten the 53rd-ranked player 4 times previously and this time again she hardly broke a sweat as she beat Manupatty in 38 minutes.
The Indian shuttle queen continued from where she had left at the Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold earlier this year. She began in commanding fashion and raced to 11-5 lead at the mid-game interval. The India number one wrapped up the first game 21-8.
In the second game, the Indonesian showed a lot more fighting spirit and the score was tied till 7-7. But Saina Nehwal broke away from there with her trademark shotmaking. She won five consecutive points on the trot to lead 12-7 and eventually finished with 21-8, 21-12.
Kidambi Srikanth Bows Out In Three Games
World number five Kidambi Srikanth could not replicate his form from 2014 and went down fighting to #14 Kento Momota of Japan in three games. The Indian number one had beaten the Japanese in a hard-fought match in their last meeting at the 2014 Superseries Finals. Unfortunately this time his effort went in vain and the All England Open remains elusive for Srikanth again.
There was little to separate the two as they began the first game. It was Momota who took advantage of Srikanth’s errors and had a 18-12 lead after the interval. Srikanth fought back but the Japanese closed out the game 21-18.
Srikanth found the accuracy on his returns in the second game as he left no room for the Japanese. He quickly soared to 13-6 and slammed shut the second game 21-12.
The third game was on level terms till 8-8 from where Momota scored four points quickly to lead 12-8. Srikanth tried hard to keep pace with his opponent but failed as the Japanese further consolidated the advantage. Kento Momota finished with a 21-18, 12-21, 21-15 triumph in 1 hour and 6 minutes.
Parupalli Kashyap Crashes Out of All England Open
Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold winner Parupalli Kashyap also had a disappointing exit in the first round. The Indian number two held a 2-0 career record over world number seven Chou Tien Chen from Chinese Taipei but failed to make any inroads into his game this time.
Kashyap could not provide any resistance at all as he surrendered the first game 13-21 to his higher-ranked rival. In the second game, the score was level till 5-5 but Tien Chen upped the ante from then onwards to take a lead of 11-5 and won 21-13, 21-12 in 33 minutes.
Manu Attri/B. Sumeeth Reddy Stun 7th Seeds
Proving that Indian doubles players are making a lot of progress, the unseeded pair of Manu Attri and B. Sumeeth Reddy played some stunning shots to shock their much accomplished opponents.
The Chinese duo of Chai Biao and Hong Wei are reigning champions at the Swiss Grand Prix Gold and were runners-up at the China Open and Superseries Finals last year. They began in incredible fashion and took the first game 21-9. But the Indian duo kept their composure to come back from a game down and registered a 9-21, 21-17, 21-17 victory in 57 minutes.
In women’s doubles, the former World Championships bronze medallists Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa too had to fight hard to advance to the second round. Jwala and Ashwini edged past the Malaysian pair of Amelia Alicia Anscelly and Fie Cho Soong 21-12, 20-22, 21-14 in 51 minutes.
Later in the day, HS Prannoy and Ajay Jayaram too begin their campaign at the All England Open. Follow Sports Rediscovered for all the updates from this year’s first Superseries Premier event.