Last week saw the prestigious Badminton Asia Championships being held in Wuhan, China. World No. 1 Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu and Parupalli Kashyap were the biggest medal hopes, but unfortunately the Indian challenge ended in the quarters. Here’s a weekly recap of Indian badminton.
Saina, Sindhu were the last Indian badminton stars standing in Wuhan
It was absolutely heartening to see the very talented PV Sindhu back on court again. Sindhu who missed a big chunk of the season due to stress fracture in her left foot, gave a good account of herself in her first tournament since the break.
Her first big test came in the form of top seed Li Xuerui in the quarters. Sindhu who had beaten the Chinese in their last meeting, started off brilliantly and was points away from a victory. But the experienced Chinese bounced back in the third game to take the match 11-21, 21-19, 21-8. Still Sindhu can be proud of her efforts and can take a lot of positives from her performance.
The top-ranked Saina Nehwal who received a bye in the first round and a walkover in the second, opened against a tough opponent – World No. 10 Nozomi Okuhara. Saina posted a 21-14, 10-21, 21-10 victory over the Japanese.
In the quarters, the unpredictable Chinese Taipei shuttler Tai Tzu Ying was waiting. The Indian badminton star had lost her last two encounters against the 20-year-old and even though Saina fought hard, it was the same outcome once again. The Indian went down 16-21, 21-13, 21-18.
Parupalli Kashyap was the only Indian in men’s singles
Parupalli Kashyap was the sole Indian in men’s singles in the absence of Kidambi Srikanth and HS Prannoy, both of whom withdrew due to injuries. The World No. 14 began his campaign with two good wins over Singaporean Zi Liang Derek Wong and Jen Hao Hsu of Taipei. However, Kashyap’s run came to an end in the third round as he succumbed to a 21-23, 21-17, 21-8 defeat to seventh seed Wang Zhengming.
Manu Attri/B Sumeeth Reddy were the only Indian duo to make it to the third round. They lost to the third-seeded Chinese duo of Xiaolong Liu/Zihan Qiu 10-21, 13-21 in men’s doubles. Pranaav Jerry Chopra and Akshay Dewalkar were ousted in men’s doubles second round. The Indians lost 15-21, 17-21 to Japanese fourth seeds Hiroyuki Endo/Kenichi Hayakawa.
2014 bronze medallists, Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa had a disappointing campaign in women’s doubles. The Indian pair went down to the lower-ranked Chinese Taipei pair of Ya Ching Hsu and Yu Po Pai 17-21, 21-15, 15-21.
In mixed doubles, Arun Vishnu/Aparna Balan lost 13-21, 5-21 to Kai Lu/Yaqiong Huang of China in the second round.
Saina Nehwal retains her World No. 1 spot in women’s singles in the latest BWF rankings. PV Sindhu, too holds on to her 12th rank.
In men’s singles, Kidambi Srikanth, Parupalli Kashyap and HS Prannoy all maintain their 4th, 14th and 15th rankings respectively. The only change in top 50 of men’s singles is that B Sai Praneeth has risen a place to be 42nd.
This week: New Zealand Open
This week the New Zealand Open will be held in Auckland. Anand Pawar will be playing in men’s singles while the mixed doubles pair of Tarun Kona/Sikki Reddy will be vying for the title at this Grand Prix Gold tournament. Rachita Sahdev will also be in action in mixed doubles along with her New Zealand partner Abhinav Manota.