Sindhu, Praneeth, Ajay win at World Championships

Glasgow: Indians continued their good run at the World Badminton Championship with P V Sindhu, B Sai Praneeth and Ajay Jayaram registering straight game victories in singles events here today.

Olympic silver medallist Sindhu, who received a bye in the first round, advanced to the pre-quarterfinals of the women’s singles competition after defeating Korea’s Kim Hyo Min in the second round.

Sindhu, who twice won bronze medals at the 2013 and 2014 editions, notched up a 21-16 21-14 win over Kim in a 49-minute match, to extend her head-to-head record against the Korean to 4-1 in five meetings.

The 22-year-old will face either Russian’s Evgeniya Kosetskaya or Hong Kong’s Cheung Ngan Yi, 13th seed, in the next round.

“I could see she (Kim) was tired by the end. She was playing long rallies and I was okay with it. I last played her a year ago, so I knew her game,” Sindhu said.

On whether she was happy with long rallies, Sindhu smiled and said, “That was not my idea. I still wanted to finish fast.”

Singapore Open champion Praneeth made a positive start to his campaign, registering a straight-game win over Hong Kong’s Wei Nan to reach the second round of men’s singles event.

Praneeth, seeded 15th, fought back from 5-9 and 14-16 deficit in the opening game and 10-13 and 15-17 in the second but fought back to eventually see off Wei Nan 21-18 21-17 in a 48-minute match.

The 25-year-old from Hyderabad will next take on Indonesia’s Anthony Sinisuka Ginting, who is the 2014 Nanjing Youth Olympic and World Junior Championships boys’ singles bronze medallist.

“I was expecting a tough match. I changed my game but the match was getting close. He made some small mistakes and I won. I am happy that I could pull off the match today as I know this is a tough match. Tomorrow it would be another difficult match and I hope I can win,” Praneeth told PTI.

Experienced shuttler Ajay Jayaram also produced a dominating performance to storm into the second round with a 21-14 21-12 win over Austria’s Luka Wraber. He will take on The Netherland’s Mark Caljouw next.

Women’s doubles pair of Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy defeated Indonesian-Malaysian combo of Ririn Amelia and Anna Ching Yik Cheong 21-15 21-13 to make a bright start to their campaign.

India’s top mixed doubles pair of Pranaav Jerry Chopra and N Sikki Reddy, seeded 15th, who had won the Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold title, also defeated Indo-Malaysian combo of Prajakta Sawant and Yogendran Khrishnan 21-12 21-19 to reach the next round.

However, disappointment was at store for India in the other mixed doubles matches as B Sumeeth Reddy and Ashwini, and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Maneesha K suffered contrasting losses to bow out of the tournament.

Sumeeth and Ashwini, who had reached the finals of Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold in January, went down fighting 17-21 21- 18 5-21 to 13th seeded Chinese pair of Wang Yilyu and Huang Dongping, while Satwiksairaj and Maneesha lost 20-22 18-21 to 14th seeded Denmark duo of Mathias Christiansen and Sara Thygesen.

The men’s doubles pair of Satwiksairaj and Chirag Shetty also found the going tough against Japanese combo of Hiroyuki Endo and Yuta Watanabe, losing 8-21 12-21 in a 32 minute match.

In the women’s singles, Sindhu came out all cylinders blazing as she dished out a dominating game to zoom to a 8-0 lead in the first game. Kim Hyo Min tried to break the one-way traffic and won four straight points but the Indian grabbed a comfortable 11-5 lead.

The Korean reduced the gap to 8-12 after the break but a determined Sindhu continued to move ahead and reached 16-10 at one stage. She eventually took a 20-14 lead. Kim saved two game points before the Indian sealed the opening game.

The last time Sindhu had faced Kim, she had suffered a straight-game defeat in 2016 Australian Open and the Indian was determined to not allow any hiccups today.

In the second game, Sindhu once again opened up a 8-3 lead. The Korean managed to reduce the margin to 8-10 but the Indian didn’t allow Kim to put up a challenge as she kept on surging ahead, reaching 19-12.

Sindhu then sealed the issue eventually without much ado, grabbing the final two points.

National champion Rituparna Das also emerged victories in her opening round match yesterday as her opponent, Finland’s Airi Mikkela retired after trailing 0-2 in the first game.

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