India’s medal hopes in badminton singles event received a major jolt as World No. 10 PV Sindhu crashed out, losing 22-20, 16-21, 20-22 to Indonesian Manuputty Bellaetrix, ranked 34th. World No. 7 Saina Nehwal, meanwhile kept the Indian tricolour flying with a convincing 21-7, 21-6 victory over Iran’s Soraya Aghaeihajiagha in the Round of 16.
However there was a lot to cheer about in the men’s section at the Gyeyang Gymnasium. The men’s doubles team of Sumeet Reddy/Manu Attri created a huge upset as they beat the World No. 10 Chinese pair Liu Xialong and Qiu Zihan 21-17 21-16 to move into the quarter-finals. Reddy and Attri, ranked 42nd in the world, kept up their aggression throughout the match and held on to their nerves to turn the tables on the Chinese pair.
Commonwealth Games gold medallist Parupalli Kashyap too opened his singles campaign on a winning note. Kashyap notched up an emphatic 21-6, 21-6 triumph over Afghanistan’s Iqbal Ahmad Shekib in just 17 minutes to storm into the pre-quarter-finals.
It was double delight for Manu Attri as he won his mixed doubles quarter-final as well partnering N Sikki Reddy. The Indian duo hardly broke a sweat as they thumped Rasheed Aishath Afnaan and Sharafuddeen Nasheeu of Maldives 21-8 21-4 in 15 minutes to make the Round of 16.
But it wasn’t however a perfect day for India in doubles as Akshay Dewalkar and Pradnya Gadre’s Round of 32 results didn’t go in India’s favour. Dewalkar and Gadre lost a close encounter 20-22, 21-17, 13-21 to Triyachart Chayut and Yao Lei of Singapore.
Despite all the winning results in badminton, PV Sindhu’s ouster dampened the spirits a bit. She had come on the back of a World Championship bronze medal winning performance and one expected a better performance from Sindhu.
Sindhu looked good in the opening game and clinched it 22-20 in 19 minutes.
But her inconsistency which has become an unfortunate trait in her game, returned to haunt the Indian. Sindhu couldn’t keep up her focus and surrendered the second game 21-16. The Indonesian seized the opportunity and kept up the pressure on Sindhu. The India no. 2 tried her best and levelled the score but the Indonesian unfortunately had the last say.
India No. 1 Saina Nehwal who had looked confident during her women’s team event remains the only medal hope in women’s singles. But her road gets tougher as she crosses swords with second seed Wang Yihan in the quarter-finals. Saina unfortunately has a 1-8 record against the former World No. 1. Here’s hoping her burgeoning confidence will help her in overcoming the mighty hurdle called Yihan.