Sindhu and Saina enter last eight, Lin and Lee exit

P. V. Sindhu and Saina Nehwal kept the Indian challenge alive in the India Open with contrasting wins but badminton superstars Lin Dan and Lee Chong Wei were knocked out by lesser ranked opponents.

P.V.Sindhu during the match against Busanan Ongbumrungphan (THA) in New Delhi on Thursday.   -  THE HINDU

Two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan and his arch-rival Lee Chong Wei took turns to show their disinterest in playing in the $300,000 India Open by almost choosing to make pre-mature exit in straight games at the Siri Fort Indoor Stadium here.

The two great players from the badminton world, and crowd pullers without parallel, were expected to play to their seeding and clash in the semi-finals but that was not to be. It was clear that Lin Dan and Lee Chong Wei lost their matches rather than their lesser-known rivals winning it.

With a clear view to save their energies for the more premier events ahead of the Olympic Games qualifying cut-off date, fourth-seed Lin Dan surrendered to 13-21, 20-22, Korea’s Son Won Ho before top-seed Lee Chong Wei followed him by leaving Hong Kong’s Wei Nan with his greatest victory, the score reading 21-19, 21-19.

From the Indian perspective, after the home challenge in the men’s section ended late on Wednesday night and the women’s duo of G. Jwala and Ashwini Ponnappa also fell at the first hurdle, Saina Nehwal and P. V. Sindhu took contrasting routes to reach the quarter-finals and kept the country’s interest alive.

Much before Saina kept her unbeaten run intact against Nitchaon Jindapol 21-19, 21-14 in 42 minutes, Sindhu fought off a spell of inconsistency to beat another Thai girl Busanan Ongbumrungphan 17-21, 21-19, 21-16 in 76 minutes. The victory also helped Sindhu stay undefeated against Busanan.

Struggling with her judgements and committing far too many unforced errors, Sindhu looked in serious danger when trailing 14-16 in the second game. But she managed to lift herself up and eventually managed to convert her second game-point to force the decider. Busanan kept up the pressure on Sindhu for the better part of the third game. But once Sindhu sneaked ahead at the home-stretch, Busanan cracked.

Results (pre-quarterfinals)

Men singles: Wei Nan (Hkg) bt Lee Chong Wei (Mal) 21-19, 21-19; Viktor Axelsen (Den) bt Sony Dwi Kuncoro (Ina) 21-18, 18-21, 21-16; Son Won Ho (Kor) bt Lin Dan (Chn) 21-13, 22-20; Tommy Sugiarto (Ina) bt Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk (Tha) 24-22, 21-19; Marc Zwiebler (Ger) bt Tian Houwei (Chn) 18-21, 21-19, 23-21; Xue Son (Chn) bt Jan O Jorgensen (Den) 21-15, 15-21, 21-16; Hans-Kristian Vittinghus (Den) bt Chou Tien Chen (Tpe) 21-12, 21-12; Kento Momota (Jpn) bt Ng Ka Long Angus (Hkg) 21-16, 21-11.

Women singles: P. V. Sindhu bt Busanan Ongbumrungphan (Tha) 17-21, 21-19, 21-16; Bae Yeon Ju (Kor) bt Yui Hashimoto (Jpn) 21-16, 21-10; Ratchanok Intanon (Tha) bt Rituparna Das 21-9, 21-4; Tai Tzu Ying (Tpe) bt Akane Yamaguchi (Jpn) 21-16, 21-19; Wang Shixian (Chn) bt Sayaka Sato (Jpn) 19-21, 21-11, 21-14; Li Xuerui (Chn) bt Porntip Buranaprasertsuk (Tha) 17-21, 21-13, 23-21; Sung Ji Hyun (Kor) bt Pai Yu Po (Tpe) 21-16, 21-11; Saina Nehwal bt Nitchaon Jindapol (Tha) 21-19, 21-14.