Saina, Srikanth lose Dubai Super Series openers

Ace Indian shuttlers, Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth, had a disappointing start to their campaign at the BWF Super Series Finals as they suffered straight-game defeats on the opening day of the prestigious event here today.

Saina Nehwal will take on world number one Carolina Marin in her next group game.   -  AP

Ace Indian shuttlers, Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth, had a disappointing start to their campaign at the BWF Super Series Finals as they suffered straight-game defeats on the opening day of the prestigious event here today.

World No. 2 Saina seemed to struggle with her ankle injury as she went down 14-21 6-21 against Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara in a women’s singles match which lasted 35 minutes.

The World Championship silver medallist will play World No. 1 Carolina Marin in another Group A match tomorrow.

World No. 9 Kidambi Srikanth, who had reached the finals of Indonesia Masters Grand Prix Gold last week, suffered a 13-21 13-21 loss against Japan’s Kento Momota in a men’s singles Group B match at the Hamdan Sports Complex.

The 22-year-old Indian will next face Viktor Axelsen of Denmark tomorrow.

Saina, who came into the match with a 4-0 head-to-head record against Okuhara, with two of those wins coming this year at Asian Championship and China Open, could not play her best game as her ankle injury restricted her on-court movement.

Okuhara zoomed to a 5-1 lead early on but Saina soon engaged her rival on long rallies using her tosses and drops and also judged the shuttle well to claw back at 8-8. The Indian grabbed the lead when Okuhara hit wide but Okuhara caught the Indian at the forecourt and then with a smash moved into the interval with a slender 11-10 lead.

Saina stumbled on a few unforced errors after the break which allowed Okuhara to lead 17-12. Saina grabbed two points before a net error and cross court drop at the left took the Japanese to the game point. She pocketed the game when Saina hit long again.