Srikanth enters second round, Saina exits from Thailand Open

BANGKOK: Two-time Olympic medallist V Sindhu huffed and puffed her way to the women’s singles second round while Kidambi Srikanth and HS Prannoy, the protagonists of India’s historic Thomas Cup triumph, suffered contrasting fates in the opening round of Thailand Open on Wednesday.

Sindhu, seeded sixth and ranked seventh in the world, staved off a spirited challenge from world number 62, USA’s Lauren Lam 21-19 19-21 21-18 to set up a clash with Sim Yu Jin, who had played a pivotal role in Korea’s Uber Cup win. Fresh from playing a major role in the Thomas Cup victory, Srikanth, seeded eighth, produced a gritty show to get the better of Brice Leverdez of France 18-21 21-10 21-16 in 49 minutes.

The World number 11 Indian will next face Ireland’s Nhat Nguyen, who defeated Hans-Kristian Solberg Vittinghus of Denmark 21-12 23-21 in the first round. Prannoy, who won the decisive third singles during the quarterfinals and semifinals of Thomas Cup, went down fighting 17-21 21-15 15-21 to Daren Liew of Malaysia.

Among other Indians in the fray, Ashwini Bhat K and Shikha Gautam beat Thailand’s Kittipak Dubthuk and Prinda Pattanawaritthipan 21-12 21-17 to enter the second round. Ishaan Bhatnagar and Tanisha Crasto got a walkover from USA’s Mathew Fogarty and Isabel Zhong to also advance to the second round.

London Olympic bronze medallist Saina Nehwal battled hard for 50 minutes before losing 21-11 15-21 17-21 to Korean Kim Ga Eun in the women’s singles first round. Indian qualifier Ashmita Chaliha lost to seventh seeded Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand 10-21 15-21 in a first round match that lasted 29 minutes.

Compatriot and another qualifier, Aakarshi Kashyap lost to Michelle Li of Canada 13-21 18-21 to bow out of the tournament in the first round. Malvika Bansod battled her way into the second round with a fighting 17-21 21-15 21-11 win over Ukraine’s Maria Ultina. She will next face Line Christopherson of Denmark.

The mixed doubles pair of B Sumeeth Reddy and Ashwini Ponnappa also suffered a first round exit, losing to the eighth-seeded Japanese duo of Yuki Kaneko and Misaki Matsutomo 17-21 17-21 in 34 minutes. It was also curtains for B Sai Praneeth and Sourabh Verma in the men’s singles opening round. While Praneeth lost 12-21 13-21 to Kantaphon Wangcharoen of Thailand, Sourabh was shown the door by Toma Junior Popov of France 20-22 12-21.