Malaysia Masters 2020: Saina Nehwal Eases into Round 2, Srikanth and Praneeth Face 1st Round Exit

Saina Nehwal (L), Sai Praneeth (C) and Kidambi Srikanth. (Photo Credit: AP/@BAI_Media/Reuters)

Saina Nehwal (L), Sai Praneeth (C) and Kidambi Srikanth. (Photo Credit: AP/@BAI_Media/Reuters)

Malaysia Masters 2020: Saina Nehwal won in straight games while Sai Praneeth and Kidambi Srikanth lost in the first round.

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Kuala Lumpur: Saina Nehwal hardly broke a sweat as she advanced to the second round of Malaysia Masters on Wednesday while Kidambi Srikanth and World championships bronze-medallist B Sai Praneeth made first-round exits from the tournament after going down to Denmark's Rasmus Gemke and Taiwan's Chou Tien Chen, respectively.

Praneeth's 11-21, 15-21 loss early in the day meant another disappointment for India in the Super 500 tournament following Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty's first-round defeat in the men's doubles event on Tuesday.

Saina's win, however, brought some respite for the Indian camp, as she beat Belgium's Lianne Tan 21-15, 21-17 in 36 minutes.

After a disappointing end to the 2019 season where Saina faced health issues and struggled to achieve match fitness, the two-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist looked healthy and agile to begin the new season.

Unlike Saina's performances in 2019, where her movement never looked at its best, she moved well around the court on Wednesday and was able to play her shots to grab the victory.

Tan did provide a few challenges to the Indian but Saina, despite some unforced errors, was able to keep her calm and set up a second round match against either of Thailand's Porntip Buranaprasertsuk or South Korea's young star An Se Young.

Srikanth, on the other hand, played a terrible match as he went down 17-21, 5-21 to Chou in just 30 minutes.

The first game saw Chou take early control of the match as he took a 16-8 lead over the Indian. However, Srikanth fought back with five straight points to make it 13-16. However, the Taiwanese was not giving away the lead with his sharp attack and impeccable defensive skills and took the first game 21-17.

In the second game, it never looked like Srikanth was in the match as Chou attacked the Indian with ease while the Guntur shuttler did not have any reply at all.

Later on Wednesday, Parupalli Kashyap will take on top seed Kento Momota in men's singles.

Other top India shuttlers, including PV Sindhu, HS Prannoy and Sameer Verma will also be in action.

(With PTI inputs)