Olympic medallists Saina Nehwal and P.V. Sindhu sailed into the women’s singles quarterfinals with straight-game wins but it was curtains for Kidambi Srikanth at the BWF Badminton World Championships here on Thursday.
Saina, who had clinched a silver and a bronze at the 2015 and 2017 editions, defeated 2013 champion Ratchanok Inthanon of Thailand 21-16, 21-19 to set up a meeting with Olympic champion and two-time world champion, Carolina Marin.
“It is a very good win. She is known for a deceptive game. Second game was going my way, but suddenly she played some difficult strokes, she was everywhere and made it 19-19. At that point, Gopi sir played a big role. He told me what to do and I followed that and the game turned in my favour,” Saina said.
Saina showed amazing retrieving skills against Inthanon, who is on a comeback trail after recovering from an injury.
“Pressure is less on me now because the last few tournaments I haven’t been able to cross the quarterfinals but I have played well at the Commonwealth Games and Asian Championship. But I can see that the form sometimes goes here and there but I am happy it is coming back in important events.”
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Talking about her next match against Marin, Saina said: “I have played her at Denmark Open last, she is quick and aggressive and it would be a challenging match for me and I will just look to give my best.”
Third seed and last edition’s silver medallist, P.V. Sindhu, eased past ninth seed Ji Hyun Sung of Korea 21-10, 21-18 in a third round clash.
In the next round, Sindhu will face a familiar foe in Nozomi Okuhara. Eighth seed Okuhara of Japan beat Sindhu in the final of the tournament last year.
Three more Indians in next round
B. Sai Praneeth also eased into the men’s singles quarterfinals with a comfortable 21-13, 21-11 win over Denmark’s Hans-Kristian Solberg Vittinghus. He will take on sixth seed Kento Momoto in the next round.
The Indian mixed doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Ashwini Ponnappa stand one step away from a medal after pulling off a stunning 20-22, 21-14, 21-6 victory over the world no.7 combination of Malaysians Goh Soon Huat and Shevon Jemie Lai, to progress to the quarterfinals.
Earlier, Ashwini and Satwik showed great composure as they recovered from a game down to prevail over their higher ranked opponents.
It was an even battle in the opening game where the Malaysian pair managed an 11-8 lead at the break and though Ashwini and Satwik clawed back at 14-14 and even held a slender 18-16 lead at one stage, their rivals were more composed to win the game.
In the second game, Goh and Shevon opened up a 5-2 lead but this time Ashwini and Satwik drew parity at 9-9 and then broke off to bounce back into the contest.
In the decider, the Indian pair was brilliant as they aggressively dominated the proceedings. They led 11-4 at the interval and continued in the same vein after the breather to storm into the quarters.
Srikanth's hopes dashed
However, fifth seed Srikanth’s dream of winning a medal came crashing down after he was outwitted 18-21, 18-21 by the experienced Malaysian Daren Liew in a 41-minute clash.
“I had my chances but couldn’t keep the shuttle in. Too many smashes out, too many mistakes. I should have handled it much better,” said Srikanth.