London Olympic bronze medallist Saina Nehwal crashed out of the Orleans Masters badminton tournament with a straight-games first-round loss to Turkey’s Neslihan Yigit on Wednesday.
Mithun Manjunath, Priyanshu Rajawat, Aakarshi Kashyap and Tanya Hemanth progressed to the second round.
Returning to the court after missing a few tournaments, the celebrated Indian shuttler tamely went down 16-21, 14-21 to Turkish qualifier Yigit in 39 minutes.
Saina, who missed the All England Championships and has dropped to 32 in the BWF Rankings, had her right knee heavily strapped.
She looked sluggish and was slow off the blocks as she trailed Yigit 4-11. Saina, however, fought back to narrow down the deficit to 13-15 but the gap was eventually too much as the Turkish shuttler took the first game.
A rusty Saina was down against in the second game, trailing 6-11 at the mid-game interval and eventually losing the tie in straight games.
Sameer Verma, on the other hand, squandered a game lead to lose 19-21, 21-19, 21-17 against Ireland’s Nhat Nguyen.
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In other first-round men’s singles matches, India’s Manjunath defeated higher-ranked Victor Svendsen of Denmark 24-22, 25-23 while Rajawat beat compatriot Kiran George 21-18, 21-13.
Manjunath will play Taipei’s Yu Jen, who was lucky to progress after fifth seed Rasmus Gemke retired in the second game after pocketing the first.
Rajawat, on the other hand, will be up against top seed Kenta Nishimoto of Japan.
Nishimoto prevailed over Taipei’s Chia Hao Lee 21-18, 21-11.
Tanya eked out a 21-17, 21-18 win over Leonice Huet of France in the women’s singles while Aakarshi fought from a game down to beat Japan’s Natsuki Nidaira 8-21, 21-13, 8-21.
Tasnim Mir went down fighting to Germany’s Yvonne Li 22-20, 13-21, 5-21 while Ashmita Chaliha suffered 20-22, 17-21 defeat against Thet Htar Thuzar of Myanmar.
B Sai Praneeth lost 20-22, 17-21 to Malaysia’s Jun Hao Leong.
Mixed doubles pair of K. Sai Pratheek and Tanisha Crasto won 21-14, 21-17 against Algeria’s Koceila Mammeri and Tanina Mammeri. The other two mixed doubles pair of Ashwini Ponnappa and Sumeeth Reddy and Sikki Reddy and Rohan Kapoor will also be in action later on Wednesday.
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