Saina Nehwal, Kidambi Srikanth make winning starts at Orleans Masters

Both Saina and Srikanth won their respective matches in straight games.

Saina Nehwal

Saina Nehwal beat Rachael Darragh of Ireland 21-9, 21-5 on Wednesday.   -  Getty Images

India shuttler Saina Nehwal beat Rachael Darragh of Ireland 21-9, 21-5 on Wednesday to advance into the second round of Orleans Masters.

It was a welcome return for the Indian shuttler who missed out on the All England Championship with a thigh niggle. The ranking points gained from the victory will strengthen Saina's Tokyo Olympics chances later this year.

The former World No. 1 shuttler dominated with cross-court shots and superfast forehands to keep Darragh on her toes.

READ| Srikanth and Co. eye ranking points for Olympic qualification at Orleans Masters

Darragh put up a brave front towards the end of the second game with a long rally but Saina's mastery was too powerful to handle.

Saina will now face the winner between Israel’s Ksenia Polikarpova and local player Marie Batomene in the women’s singles Round of 16.

In other results, top seed Kidambi Srikanth entered the third round with a 21-15, 21-10 win over compatriot Ajay Jayaram 21-15, 21-10 in 25 minutes. He had received a bye in the first round.

Ajay Jayaram prevailed 19-21, 23-21, 21-16 over fellow Indian Alap Mishra. The Mixed doubles pair of Pranaav Jerry Chopra and N Sikki Reddy beat Austria's Dominik Stipsits and Serena Au Yeong 21-7, 21-18. The Indian duo will meet Denmark's Niclas Nohr and Amalie Magelund next.

Ira Sharma, who was promoted to the main draw from the women's singles qualification, saw off France's Leonice Huet 12-21, 21-14, 21-17 and will square off against Bulgaria's Mariya Mitsova.

George stuns Prannoy

India's Kiran George caused another upset on Wednesday by ousting former top 10 player HS Prannoy 13-21, 21-16, 23-21 in a 59-minute match in the second round.

The world No. 112 Indian will face France's Brice Leverdez next on Thursday.

This was the Indian's second impressive win in this tournament after he stunned Netherland's Mark Caljouw 13-21, 21-18, 22-20 in a thrilling opening round match.

Chirag Sen too made it to the third round after beating Indonesia's Chico Aura Dwi Wardoyo 21-13, 21-12. He will square off against third seed Hans-Kristian Solberg Vittinghus of Denmark.

Former Commonwealth Games champion Parupalli Kashyap bowed out after losing 7-21, 17-21 to France's Toma Junior Popov, while Ditlev Jaeger Holm of Denmark ended India's BM Rahul Bharadwaj's campaign with a 21-15, 21-19 win.

Ashwini Ponnappa also combined with Dhruv Kapila to get the better of Bulgarian pair of Iliyan Stoynov and Hristomira Popovska 21-8 21-12. The Indian duo will face off against England's Callum Hemming and Victoria Williams on Thursday.

In other results, Mithun Manjunath beat France's Lucas Claerbout 21-14 21-10 but Subhankar Dey lost 17-21 13-21 to Denmark's Ditlev Jaeger Holm in the opening round on Tuesday

Mithun Manjunath beat France's Lucas Claerbout 21-14 21-10 but Subhankar Dey lost 17-21 13-21 to Denmark's Ditlev Jaeger Holm in the opening round.

(With Inputs from PTI).