Denmark Open: Saina scrapes through, Sindhu crashes out

Saina Nehwal and P. V. Sindhu had contrasting fortunes in their first-round contests in Odense.

This is the third consecutive time that Sindhu has lost to Zhang.   -  GETTY IMAGES

Saina Nehwal rallied to carve out a hard-fought opening win but P.V. Sindhu crashed out of the Denmark Open with a stunning loss to American Beiwen Zhang in the women’s singles event, here on Tuesday.

Saina defeated Hong Kong’s Ngan Yi Cheung 20-22, 21-17, 24-22 in a draining clash that lasted 81 minutes. However, third seed Sindhu lost 17-21, 21-16, 18-21 to Zhang in another tough opening encounter that lasted 56 minutes.

Moving to the next round in the men’s singles event was Sameer Verma, who fought past China’s Shi Yuqi 21-17, 21-18 in the 44 minutes.

However, the mixed doubles pair of Ashwini Ponappa and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy exited after losing 17-21, 18-21 to Korean team of Seung Jae Seo and Yu Jung Chae.

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In a tense match, Saina had to endure a stiff challenge from Cheyung, who she last played back in 2016 and went on to lose that match. The see-saw battle was a thriller down to the last point with the Indian saving two match points at 21-20 and 22-21 in the final game to emerge triumphant and move ahead.

Saina was also guilty of frittering away a match point of her own when she led 20-19 in the final game.

For Sindhu, this was the third consecutive time that she lost to Zhang. The American shuttler defeated Sindhu in the Indian Open final in February earlier this year.

Rio Olympics silver-medallist Sindhu is going through a difficult phase after winning the silver medal in the Jakarta Asian Games.

She was knocked out in the second round of the Japan Open after a straight-game loss to Gao Fangjie.

The script played out similarly in the China Open, where the 23-year-old suffered a 11-21, 21-11, 15-21 loss to world No. 6 Chen Yufei of China in the quarterfinals.