Fresh from their India Open triumph, Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth got off to a winning start at the $500,000 Malaysia Open Superseries Premier held at the Putra Stadium in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday. While Saina cruised to a straight-game win over Indonesian Maria Febe Kusumastuti, Srikanth saved match points to eke out a narrow three-game victory over Rajiv Ouseph of England.
Joining Srikanth in the men’s singles second round were Parupalli Kashyap and HS Prannoy. In women’s doubles, Jwala Gutta/Ashwini Ponnappa won while the top Indian men’s doubles pair of Manu Attri/B Sumeeth Reddy crashed out in the first round.
Saina Nehwal continues to be ruthless
Saina Nehwal who is set to be officially crowned the new World No. 1 on Thursday, continued with her phenomenal form at the Malaysia Open. The India No. 1 hardly broke a sweat in posting a 21-13, 21-16 win over the 47th-ranked Maria Febe Kusumastuti of Indonesia.
After winning an easy first game, Saina got some resistance from the Indonesian in the second game. The score was tied at 15-15 when the third seed raced away to the finish line in 37 minutes.
Saina Nehwal will next face Chinese qualifier Xue Yao who upset the 19th-ranked Busanan Ongbumrungpan.
Kidambi Srikanth weathers a storm
It was a roller-coaster match between Kidambi Srikanth and World No. 20 Rajiv Ouseph which the Indian won 21-10, 15-21, 24-22 after saving 2 match points.
Srikanth had beaten the Englishman at the 2014 World Championships and he began the match on a confident note. From 7-7, the World No. 4 went on a 10-point burst to seal the first game.
Rajiv Ouseph roared back into contention by edging a closely-contested second game 21-15. In the decider, the Indian was initially trailing Rajiv 3-7 and then 8-11. But a determined Kidambi Srikanth fought back and even saved a couple of match points to win the 56-minute thriller.
The India No. 1 will take on Tian Houwei of China in the second round.
HS Prannoy, Parupalli Kashyap win
2015 Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold champion Parupalli Kashyap battled for 71 minutes to secure a berth in the second round. The World No. 13 beat the 30th-ranked Korean Lee Dong Keun 21-15, 11-21, 21-14.
The India No. 2 has an uphill task in the next round as he takes on the World No. 1 Chen Long. Kashyap has a losing 1-6 record against the Chinese.
World No. 17 HS Prannoy too moved into the second round with a 22-20, 21-18 triumph over Irishman Scott Evans in 41 minutes. It will be a mouthwatering second round encounter as the rising Indian shuttler locks horns with the legendary Lin Dan for the first time.
World No. 18 women’s doubles pairing of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa began their campaign on a winning note. The former World Championships bronze medallists beat Indonesians Keshya Nurvita Hanadia/Devi Tika Permatasari 21-14, 18-21, 21-16 in 48 minutes.
They take on sixth seeds Nitya Krishinda Maheswari/Greysia Polii next.
However, the top Indian men’s doubles duo of Manu Attri/B Sumeeth Reddy lost 11-21, 17-21 to the Indonesian team of Andrei Adistia/Hendra Aprida Gunawan in 30 minutes.
Second round action will get underway at the Putra Stadium in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday as Indian shuttlers continue their quest for the Malaysia Open.
Follow Sports Rediscovered for updates and match reports on Indian shuttlers in the Malaysia Open Superseries Premier.