Praneeth, Sameer progress in Australian Open badminton

While Praneeth beat Israel’s Misha Zilberman in straight games 21-17, 21-14, Sameer had to toil hard to get the better of New Zealand’s Abhinav Manota 13-21, 21-17, 21-12.

B. Sai Praneeth (above) will next play Panji Ahmad Maulana of Indonesia. (File Photo)   -  K.V.S. Giri

Indian shuttlers started on a positive note at the Australian Open, with second seed B. Sai Praneeth and fourth seed Sameer Verma progressing to the second round of the men’s singles event, here, on Wednesday.

While Praneeth beat Israel’s Misha Zilberman in straight games 21-17, 21-14, Sameer had to toil hard to get the better of New Zealand’s Abhinav Manota 13-21, 21-17, 21-12 in the opening round of the HSBC BWF World Tour Super 300 event.

Sameer’s brother, Sourabh Verma, however, suffered a hard-fought 19-21, 21-17, 21-12 defeat at the hands of Japan’s Takuma Ueda.

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It was curtains for unseeded Ajay Jayaram, too, despite offering a valiant fight, before going down 20-22, 22-20, 21-17 to Japan’s Riichi Takeshita in a pulsating contest that lasted for one hour and 12 minutes.

Teenage sensation Lakshya Sen, who gave double Olympic champion Lin Dan a scare last week in Auckland, also ended his campaign, losing to seventh seed Cheuk Yiu Lee of Hong Kong 20-22, 21-13, 19-21 in a match that went down to the wire.

Praneeth will next play Panji Ahmad Maulana of Indonesia, while Sameer will be up against Takuma, who defeated his elder brother in the opening round.

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Other lesser-known Indians, who fell by the wayside in men’s singles first round, were Karan Rajan Rajarajan, losing 15-21, 8-21 against Sony Dwi Kuncoro of Indonesia, and Rahul Yadav Chittaboina.

Teenage sensation Lakshya Sen, who gave double Olympic champion Lin Dan a scare last week in Auckland, will open his campaign against seventh seed Cheuk Yiu Lee of Hong Kong, later in the day.

In the absence of big names like Saina Nehwal and P.V. Sindhu, Jakka Vaishnavi Reddy was the lone Indian shuttler to progress to the women’s singles second round after she defeated England’s Georgina Bland 19-21, 21-15, 21-15 in a tough opening contest.

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It turned out to be a good day for the Indians in the men’s doubles competition as the pairs of third-seeded Manu Attri and B. Sumeeth Reddy, and seventh seeds Arjun M.R. and Ramchandran Shlok advanced to the next round with easy wins over their Australian rivals. While Manu and Sumeeth defeated Lukas Defolky and Michael Fairman 21-11, 21-10, Arjun and Ramachandran scored a comfortable 21-7, 21-15 win over Raymond Tam and Eric Vuong in their respective tournament-openers.

Manu and Sumeeth will next face Korean combination of Hyuk Gyun Choi and Kyung Hoon Park.

However, another Indian pair of Francis Alwin and K. Nandgopal, seeded eighth, trailed 28-30, 8-7 before conceding their first-round match midway.

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It was also end of the road for men’s doubles pair of Rohan Kapoor and Shivam Sharma after losing 15-21, 21-15, 7-21 against Malaysia’ Tang Jie Chen and Soon Huat Goh.

The only Indian pair to feature in the women’s doubles, Meghana Jakkampudi and Poorvisha S. Ram entered the second round with a comfortable 21-10, 21-16 win over Australia’s Maggie Chan and Jodee Vega. They will now play Japanese duo of Miki Kashihara and Miyuki Kato.