Top Indian shuttlers, including double Olympic medallist PV Sindhu and World Championships silver and bronze winners Kidambi Srikanth and Lakshya Sen, progressed to the second round of the German Open on Tuesday.
London Olympics bronze medallist Saina Nehwal also made an impressive start at the $180,000 Super 300 badminton tournament after struggling with fitness issues due to injuries and illness in the last few months.
Seventh seed Sindhu trounced Thailand’s Busanan Ongbamrungphan 21-8 21-7 in a lop-sided contest after Srikanth, seeded 8th, saw off France’s world number 39 Brice Leverdez 21-10 13-21 21-7 in 48 minutes.
It was Sindhu’s 15th win over the world number 11 Thai player, while Srikanth too extended his head-to-head count over Leverdez to 4-0 after this victory.
Sindhu, a 2019 world champion, will meet China’s Zhang Yi Man next, while world number 11 Srikanth will take on China’s Lu Guang Zu.
Srikanth, who was forced out of the India Open Super 500 event in January after testing positive for COVID-19, has a 2-0 head-to-head record against the Chinese, ranked 27th.
Later in the day, Sen, who had claimed the India Open title in January, dished out a superb performance to outwit Thailand’s Kantaphon Wangcharoen 21-6 22-20.
Saina, meanwhile, had to dig deep to stave off a challenge from Spain’s Clara Azurmendi with a 21-15 17-21 21-14 win.
Sen will now square off against fourth seed Anthony Sinisuka Ginting of Indonesia, while Saina is likely to take on eighth seed Ratchanok Intanon.
In other results, Indonesian pair of Adnan Maulana and Mychelle Crhystine Bandaso ended the campaign of India’s Dhruv Kapila and Gayatri Gopichand with a 21-19 21-19 win, while Haritha Manazhiyil Harinarayanan and Ashna Roy were no match for Italian combination of Martina Corsini and Judith Mair, losing 9-21 10-21.
The mixed doubles pair of Sai Pratheek K and N Sikki Reddy endured a difficult time against top seeds Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai of Thailand, going down 19-21 8-21 in their opening match.
Sindhu was playing in a different gear against Busanan, who failed to pose any threat to the Indian during the 32-minute match.
It was a complete domination from the Indian as she moved to 11-4 in no time and soon earned the bragging rights. The second game was also not too different as from 7-5, Sindhu marched ahead and shut the door on her rival without much ado.
In the men’s singles match, Srikanth looked in good touch as he zoomed from 6-6 to 19-8 in a jiffy and pocketed the opening game comfortably.
Leverdez made a roaring comeback in the second game as he dominated the proceeding and led from the start to finish, making it 1-1.
In the decider, Srikanth found his rhythm back as he made his way to 11-5 at the break and kept his nose ahead to jump to 18-7 before sealing it comfortably in the end.