India Open: Sindhu, Saina set up quarterfinal clash; Sameer cruises

Only unseeded Sameer Verma continued his march and joined P. V. Sindhu and Saina Nehwal at the quarterfinal stage. Rest of the Indians were sent packing.

Saina Nehwal en route to win over Thailand’s Pornpawee Chochuwong on Thursday.

 

The ongoing reality check to ascertain the depth in country’s badminton has so far produced dismal results in the Yonex India Open badminton championship here.

On the day of pre-quarterfinals, when 10 matches involved Indians, only unseeded Sameer Verma continued his march and joined P. V. Sindhu and Saina Nehwal at the quarterfinal stage. Rest of the Indians were sent packing.

Sameer, upbeat after scalping World No. 5 Son Won Ho in the opening round, led against World No. 15 Hu Yun throughout the first game and then broke away from 9-9 to win 21-17, 21-15 in 40 minutes. Sameer, ranked 38th, stroked freely and controlled the points better. Whenever needed, he moved from offence to defence with ease and repeatedly forced the Hong Kong player to err.

India's Sameer Verma plays against Hu Yun (HKG) during the men’s singles match at the India Open 2017 in New Delhi on Thursday.   -  PTI

 

Sameer had beaten Hu Yun in last year’s All England Open to avenge the loss suffered in the Thailand Masters last February. He now faces young Danish rival Anders Antonsen, ranked 26th. Antonsen, rated high by his countryman Morten Frost, received a walkover from World No. 12 Marc Zwiebler.

In the women's singles, Saina and Sindhu, in that order, won in straight games to set up a much-waited clash.

Saina, moving better than she did in the first round, outplayed Thailand’s Pornpawee Chochuwong 21-10, 21-17 in what was a repeat result of this year’s Malaysia Masters final.

Sindhu, facing World No. 87 Saena Kawakami, won the first 21-16 but needed to draw from her reserves in a close second game. In what was the last match to finish, Sindhu had to save a game point in the second before prevailing 23-21 in the 40-minute match.

However, the inconsistency of the Indians remained a consistent factor even in home conditions. Sourabh Verma, who held a 19-16 lead in the decider could not close the match against sixth seeded Hong Kong rival Ng Ka Long Angus and lost.

B. Sai Praneeth continued his up-and-down journey and bowed to seventh seed Chinese Taipei Chou Tien Chen in straight games.

K. Srikanth, once ranked third in the world, was no match for Denmark’s Victor Axelsen. In what was a repeat clash of the 2015 final here, Axelsen avenged that three-game defeat with an emphatic 21-7, 21-12 triumph.

In mixed doubles, the expected defeat of Ashwini Ponnappa and N. Sikki Reddy to fourth seeded Thai pair of Puttita Supajirakul and Sapsiree Taerattanchai followed the exit of Shruti Mundada and Anoushka Parikh to third seeded Japanese Naoko Fukuman and Kurumi Yonao (Jpn).

India’s challenge also ended in the mixed doubles where seventh seeded pair of Pranav Chopra and Sikki Reddy surrendered to unseeded Russians Evgenij Dremin and Evgenia Dimova.

Pre-quarterfinals results (involving Indians, prefix denotes seeding):
 

Men: Sameer Verma bt Hu Yun (Hkg) 21-17, 21-15; 7-Chou Tien Chen (Tpe) bt B. Sai Praneeth 21-14, 21-16; 3-Victor Axelsen (Den) bt K. Srikanth 21-7, 21-12; 6-Ng Ka Long Angus (Hkg) bt Sourabh Verma 21-19, 14-21, 22-20.

Women: 3-P. V. Sindhu bt Saena Kawakami (Jpn) 21-16, 23-21; 6-Saina Nehwal bt Pornpawee Chochuwong (Tha) 21-10, 21-17; 1-Carolina Marin (Esp) bt Rituparna Das 21-13, 21-11.

Women's doubles: 4-Puttita Supajirakul and Sapsiree Taerattanachai (Tha) bt Ashwini Ponnappa and N. Sikki Reddy 21-15, 21-10; 3-Naoko Fukuman and Kurumi Yonao (Jpn) bt Shruti Mundada and Anoushka Parikh 21-5, 21-10.

Mixed doubles: Evgenij Dremin and Evgenia Dimova (Rus) bt 7-Pranav Chopra and N. Sikki Reddy 21-18, 21-19.