It was a forgettable day for India in the Hyderabad Open badminton championship men’s singles competition on Wednesday.
First, defending champion and top-seeded Sameer Verma was knocked out by former world junior champion and Korean Heo Kwang Hee, who notched up an impressive 21-18, 21-11 win in just 28 minutes in the men’s singles first round.
Within an hour, third-seeded H.S. Prannoy followed suit with Malaysia’s Tan Jia Wei notching up a 21-17, 21-10 win over the Indian.
For a tournament which is already badly hit with the premier shuttlers like Saina Nehwal, P.V. Sindhu and K. Srikanth opting out to prepare for the forthcoming World championship, this was the last the organisers would have expected to hit them.
But it was obvious from Sameer’s body language in the first game that there was something wrong with him this evening. He seemed to have clearly been rattled by the reach of his Korean opponent who combined this with his ability to retrieve from difficult angles and come up with some stunning cross-court smashes.
Sameer’s strategy of attacking Heo’s forehand did not click and even the Indian shuttler’s half-smashes were awry. The way the Korean controlled the pace of the shuttle to push the Indian to the baseline to pick the gaps on the sidelines with unerring regularity was a treat to watch.
Though Sameer did pick up a few points by hitting down the line in the right corner, Heo was delighted when the Indian missed a net dribble at 18-19 and soon wrapped up the first game with another cross-court smash.
If Sameer hoped for a comeback in the second game, for which he is famous for, it turned out to be misplaced notion as Heo ran up a sizeable 9-2 lead in a flash and after that it was pretty obvious that the Indian, who played in the BWF World Tour finals last December, was out of sorts, much to the disappointment of the Indian contingent.
Later, it was the turn of H.S. Prannoy to bow out with the Malaysian scoring a win in 37 minutes. Not the kind of start India chief national coach, P. Gopi Chand, who was there to watch the matches, had expected.
However, there was something to cheer for the host when seventh-seeded Sourabh Verma put it across a fighting Namluk Adulrach of Thailand 21-17, 21-14 to make it to the second round.
For the organisers, there was another embarrassment when the women’s doubles match featuring Ashwini Ponnappa and N. Sikki Reddy had to be shifted from Court No. 4 to No. 1 with the wooden flooring caving in one corner of the court.
The tournament referee Pencho Stoynov of Belgrade is headed back home in the evening following the demise of his 89-year-old father Lubomir in Sofia.
“Well this is destiny. We have to take things in our stride,” said a visibly composed Pencho who to his credit still stayed put at the venue till evening before catching the flight back home in the night.
Late in the evening, second seed B. Sai Praneeth also bowed out of the championship when 19-year-old Indonesian Ikshan Leonardo Imanuel Rumbay scored a 21-17, 21-23, 21-15 win in the men’s singles first round.
- First round:
- Men’s singles: Heo Kwang Hee (Kor) bt Sameer Verma (Ind) 21-18, 21-11; Sourabh Verma (Ind) bt Namkul Adulrach (Thai) 21-17, 21-14; Ajay Jayaram (Ind) bt Teck Zhi Soo (Mas) 18-21, 21-3, 21-14; Tan Jia Wei (Mas) bt H.S. Prannoy (Ind) 21-17, 21-10; Ikshan Leonardo Imanuel Rumbay bt B. Sai Praneeth 21-17, 21-23, 21-15.
- Women’s singles: Jia Min Yeo (Sgp) bt K. Supanida (Thai) 21-12, 21-19; Shu Ting Ji (Chn) bt Shikha Gautam (Ind) 21-11, 21-13; Zhang Yi Man (Chn) bt Riya Mookerjee (Ind) 21-15, 21-13; Yulia Yosephin Susanto (Ina) bt Mughda Agrey (Ind) 21-13, 21-15; Tam Brittney (Can) bt Jucharoen Chananchida (Thai) 21-17, 16-21, 21-18; Chaiwan Phittayaporn (Thai) bt G. Vrushali (Ind) 21-16, 21-10; Natalia Perminova (Rus) bt Anura Prabhudesai (Ind) 21-18, 21-19; Lee Ying Ying (Mas) bt Ashmita Chaliha (Ind) 21-13, 19-21, 21-17; Qi Zuefei (Fra) bt K. Sri Krishna Priya (Ind) 21-15, 21-10.
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