20-year-old qualifier Sameer Verma caused the biggest upset of the day by stunning World No. 9 Hans-Kristian Vittinghus 21-15, 21-17 in the first round of the $275,000 India Open Superseries at the Siri Fort Complex in New Delhi on Wednesday.
Joining Verma in the men’s singles second round were the top Indian players – Kidambi Srikanth, Parupalli Kashyap and HS Prannoy. Women’s singles top seed Saina Nehwal also safely progressed into the second round.
Sameer Verma next faces RMV Gurusaidutt
Sameer Verma who is 2011 National Champion Sourabh Verma’s younger brother had been in good form even during the qualifying rounds on Tuesday. The World No. 231 had ousted former world junior champion Zulfadli Zulkiffli in the first round of qualifying.
Against fifth seed Hans-Kristian Vittinghus, Sameer was in control throughout the match. The young Indian had already upset the Dane back in 2011 at the Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold. It took him just 33 minutes to post his second victory over the Dane and advance to the second round of the India Open.
An exciting clash is expected as the two in-form qualifiers – Sameer Verma and RMV Gurusaidutt will challenge each other for a quarter-final berth. Gurusaidutt too posted a big upset victory in the first round. The 60th-ranked player toppled the World No. 31 Lee Dong Keun 21-14, 17-21, 23-21 in a nail-biting encounter.
Top Indian shuttlers progress in the singles draw
Women’s singles draw
Top Indian shuttlers safely made their way through to the second round. World No. 2 Saina Nehwal took only 28 minutes to see off compatriot Riya Mukherjee 21-5, 21-13. The top seed will next take on the national champion Gadde Ruthvika Shivani. Ruthvika beat qualifier Rucha Nikam 21-7, 21-6 today.
Riya Pillai was the only other Indian to move into the women’s singles second round. She defeated qualifier Ekta Kalia 23-21, 21-15 to set up a meeting with Japanese Yui Hashimoto.
Men’s singles draw
In the men’s singles draw, World No. 4 Kidambi Srikanth breezed past Thailand’s Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk 21-17, 21-16 while Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold winner Parupalli Kashyap edged past Chinese Taipei’s Hsu Jen Hao 16-21, 21-19, 21-18. Swiss Open champion Srikanth will next face his All England Open conqueror Kento Momota while Kashyap will challenge qualifier Xue Song.
World No. 17 HS Prannoy also started on a winning note. The 22-year-old beat Misha Zilberman of Israel 22-20, 21-8. Prannoy has a tough task next as he is up against the top seed Jan O Jorgensen of Denmark.
Meanwhile, Ajay Jayaram, Anand Pawar and B Sai Praneeth crashed out in the opening round.
Home hope Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa lost in the women’s doubles first round 16-21, 18-21 to sixth seeds Ou Dongni/Xiaohan Yu of China. The only Indian duo making it to the second round was Kuhoo Garg/Ningshi Block Hazarika who came though a battle of Indian pairs.
The only Indian teams progressing into Round 2 were Alwin Francis/Arun Vishnu and Tarun Kona/Santosh Ravuri. Both pairs beat Indian teams in the opening round.
However, it was the end of the road for the top Indian teams – Manu Attri/B Sumeeth Reddy and Pranaav Jerry Chopra/Akshay Dewalkar. Attri/Reddy lost 15-21, 11-21 to second-seeded Japanese Hiroyuki Endo/Kenichi Hayakawa while Chopra/Dewalkar went down 15-21, 9-21 to third-seeded Chinese duo of Chai Biao/Hong Wei.
There were a couple of heartbreaking losses in mixed doubles. Ashwini Ponnappa and Pranaav Jerry Chopra were close to upsetting the fifth-seeded pair of Mads Pieler Kolding/Kamilla Rytter Juhl. But the Indians eventually went down to the Danes 13-21, 22-20, 19-21.
Tarun Kona and Sikki Reddy too were edged out in a close match. The Indian duo lost 15-21, 21-17, 22-24 to Singaporeans Chayut Triyachart/Shinta Mulia Sari.
Second round action will get underway at the Siri Fort Complex on Thursday as Indian shuttlers continue their quest for the India Open.