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New Zealand Open: Saina Nehwal Stunned by World No.212 in First Round

New Zealand Open: Saina Nehwal lost to 19-year-old Chinese Wang Zhiyi in the first round as Lakshya Sen, Ashwini-Sikki and Anura Prabhudesai were also knocked out.

Abreshmina Sayeed Quadri | News18 Sports

Updated:May 1, 2019, 3:40 PM IST
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New Zealand Open: Saina Nehwal Stunned by World No.212 in First Round
Saina Nehwal is searching for her second title of 2019. (Photo Credit: BAI)
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Auckland: Saina Nehwal was shocked in the first round of New Zealand Open on Wednesday as she lost to world No.212 Wang Zhiyi of China in straight games as India's challenge in women's singles ended.

Saina lost 16-21, 23-21, 4-21 to 19-year-old Zhiyi in an hour and seven minutes to bow out of the competition early on.

Ahead of Saina's loss, Anura Prabhudesai lost 9-21, 10-21 to 2012 Olympic gold medallist Li Xuerui of China.

Apart from these two, Lakshya Sen's tournament also ended with a hard-fought loss against Taiwan's Wang Tzu Wei. Lakshya lost 21-15, 18-21, 10-21 in an hour and 8 minutes.

Lakshya had fought back a big deficit in the first game to take that game but could not match up in the next two as the Taiwanese easily defeated the 19-year-old Indian.

Earlier in the day, Ashwini Ponnappa-N Sikki Reddy also fought hard against Chinese pair Liu Xuanxuan-Xia Yuting but came up short 14-21, 23-21, 14-21 in an hour and 10 minutes.

However, men's doubles pair of Manu Attri-B Sumeeth Reddy registered an 18-minute win over New Zealand's Joshua Feng-Jack Jiang 21-17, 21-10.

Saina Nehwal started the match on a backfoot with the Chinese taking a lead early on.

It has been a regular pattern in Saina's matches recently when she starts slow. However, on Wednesday, the Indian could not catch up with her younger opponent as Zhiyi raced away to take the first game.

The story did not change at all in the second game and Zhiyi changed gears from 7-7 to go into the break with an 11-9 lead.

After the break, the Chinese piled on the pressure on Saina and won points while the Indian struggled to string a series of points together.

However, with Zhiyi just a couple of points away from victory, Saina fought her infamous fighting spirit and won four straight points to make it 19-19. From there Saina saved a match point before taking the match into the decider.

The decider started with Zhiyi racing off to a 5-0 lead before Saina manager to register her first point on the board. Without letting Saina settle, Zhiyi raced away going into the break with a massive 11-3 lead.

It was a disappointing scene thereafter as Saina managed just one point before Zhiyi won the match.

HS PRANNOY, SAI PRANEETH WIN

HS Prannoy had an easy outing against Indonesia's Loh Kean Yew and beat him 21-15, 21-14 in just 37 minutes to advance to the next round. Prannoy will next take on second seed Tommy Sugiarto, also of Indonesia.

Sai Praneeth came up triumphant in the battle between the Indians as he beat Shubhankar Dey 21-17, 19-21, 21-15 in an hour and 11 minutes to set up a blockbuster second round match against Lin Dan.

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