New Delhi, April 26: India’s ace shuttler and World No.5 Saina Nehwal suffered a shocking exit from the Yonex India Open as she went down tamely to South Korean Youn Joo Bae in the pre-quarterfinals of the women singles at the Siri Fort Sports Complex here Thursday.
Saina, seeded third, went down 19-21, 10-21 to the unseeded South Korean in 39 minutes at the same venue which had been lucky to her in the past. Saina, India’s medal prospect in the 2012 London Games, had won the Commonwealth Games singles gold here two years back.
But on Thursday, the Hyderabadi was disappointing despite giving a tough fight in the first game. Saina had started well taking a lead of 9-6 in the first game, but Youn came back strongly to win five consecutive games and went ahead 11-9. From then the South Korean dominated and kept up the pressure in the second game as well.
“I am sorry. I don’t know what happened today,” a dejected Saina told reporters after the match.
P.V. Sindhu was the only Indian in the women’s singles after she registered a surprise win over eighth seed South Korean Ji Hyun Sung 21-17, 22-20. Sindhu will next face fourth seeded Chinese Yanjiao Jiang, who won 21-11, 21-10 against Dutch girl Jie Yao.
Women’s top seed Shixian Wang of China also moved into the quarterfinals with a 21-19, 21-19 win over Japanese Ai Goto. Another tournament favourite, German Juliane Schenk, seeded sixth, won 21-15, 21-12 against Thai qualifier Nichaon Jindapon to book her quarterfinal berth.
There was good news for India in the doubles category as well. The women’s doubles pair of Jawala Gutta and Ashwini Ponappa and the men’s team of Rupesh Kumar and Sanave Thomas won their pre-quarterfinal matches.
Jawala and Ashwini, who had won the Commonwealth Games doubles gold medal here in 2010, won 16-21, 21-15, 21-17 against Indonesians Vita Marissa and Nadya Melati.
The seasoned pair of Rupesh and Sanave also moved into the quarterfinals with a hard fought 21-18, 18-21, 21-19 win over South Korean duo Ki Jung Kim and Sa Rang Kim.
In the men’s singles, India’s Parupalli Kashyap advanced to the quarterfinals while his compatriot Ajay Jayaram was knocked out despite putting up a valiant fight against the No.1 seed Chong Wei Lee.
Kashyap overcame Boonsak Ponsana of Thailand 15-21, 21-14, 22-20 in just over an hour. The Indian was convincingly beaten in the first game as Ponsana led from the start to finish. With the Thai shuttler leading 9-8, Kashyap came back well to lead the second game 11-9.
The Indian then gained a foothold in the match not giving Ponsana any breathing space as they traded some delightful dropshots. The third game was a thrilling affair as both players traded the lead. The match seemed to be out of the grasp of the Indian when Ponsana took an 20-18 lead. Kashyap fought back valiantly and made a remarkable comeback, winning four consecutive points to take the game and match.
Jayaram, though, did not have the same luck as the younger Indian but put the No.1 seeded Chong of Malaysia under tremendous pressure. Jayaram lost 16-21 21-15, 5-21 in 47 minutes.
The first two games were extremely tight. In the first, Jayaram had a golden chance to finish off his Malaysian opponent with the score on 16-14. However, the number one seed won seven points in a row as he closed the game without losing a single point.
The Indian came back strongly in the second game and dominated his more fancied Malaysian opponent to take the game 21-15. Jayaram seemed to lose steam in the third as Chong totally outclassed him, winning nine consecutive points to advance into the quarterfinals.