Kuala Lumpur: PV Sindhu started the new year with a comfortable win over Russia's Evgeniya Kosetskaya in the first round of Malaysia Masters on Wednesday while Parupalli Kashyap could not hold his own against world No.1 Kento Momota of Japan and faced a first-round exit like his fellow men's singles players Kidambi Srikanth and B Sai Praneeth. Later in the day, HS Prannoy and Sameer Verma brought up victories to keep India's men's singles campaign alive.
Sindhu, who saw a tumultuous 2019 season after becoming the first Indian to win a World Championship gold, began the new season well as she beat Kosetskaya 21-15, 21-13 in just 35 minutes.
With the win, Sindhu set up a second round match against either of Japan's Aya Ohori or Busanan Ongbamrungphan of Thailand.
Parupalli Kashyap bowed out of the tournament after a straight-forward 17-21, 16-21 loss against world No.1 Momota. Prannoy defeated Japan's Kanta Tsuneyama 21-9, 21-17 in just 34 minutes while Sameer beat Kantaphon Wangcharoen 21-16, 21-15 in 47 minutes.
Earlier, Saina Nehwal eased into the second round with a straight-games win over Belgium's Lianne Tan 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.
Sindhu and Kosetskaya's match very evenly and the Russia even led the Indian 8-6 at one point. But Sindhu came right back in the first game and won four straight points to take a 12-9 lead.
Kosetskaya did not, however, give up and levelled the proceedings at 14-14 after which, Sindhu pulled away with five straight points to make it 19-14.
The Russian could bag just one point after that as Sindhu took the first game 21-15.
The second game began in an emphatic fashion for Sindhu as she took a massive 11-1 lead over the Russian with the latter getting only the first point of the second game in the first half.
After the break, however, Sindhu seemed to have lost concentration with the huge lead as Kosetskaya got back in the match with a series of points. She first took five straight points to cut the deficit to 9-14 and then took four points in a row to make it 13-16.
However, Sindhu held her nerves and got back to her game and won five points on the trot to seal the second game and the match.