New Delhi: Ace Indian badminton player Saina Nehwal notched up a comfortable victory in straight games over Hong Kong's Pui Yin Yip to start her India Open Super Series campaign on a positive note on Wednesday.
The world number five hardly broke a sweat and wrapped up the match inside half-an-hour, beating the Hong Kong girl 21-14 21-6 to set up a clash with Koean Youn Joo Bae in the women's singles' second round.
Meanwhile, aiming to qualify for the London Olympics, Ajay Jayaram and P Kashyap scored contrasting victories in their opening matches in the men's singles at the Siri Fort Sport Complex in New Delhi.
World number 27 Ajay Jayaram saw off compatriot Sourabh Varma 21-15 17-21 21-11 in a 55-minute match to keep his Olympic qualification bid on track. The Mumbai shuttler will take on world number one Lee Chong Wei in the second round on Thursday.
Jayaram said he was under lots of pressure before the match and was happy to win. "I was under pressure going into the match. I knew it would be a tough match and I had to work hard to win it and I am glad that I could do the job. I tried too many things in the second game. Actually I was in a hurry to finish the match but I calmed myself down in time during the third game," he said. "Sourabh is very solid in his defence and it is better to finish off the match in two games. I knew that I had to take the initiative in the match."
His compatriot P Kashyap also kept his hopes alive by notching up a comfortable 21-11 21-14 victory over Belgium Yuhan Tan to set up a clash with Boonsak Poonsana of Thailand.
After winning his match, Kashyap said, "It was easier than I expected. I lost against him in the Austrian International Challenge last year. It's always good to be here and feel at home. I am looking forward to Thursday's match, where I face Boonsak. I had beaten him a couple of times earlier, including in the Sudirman Cup, the Denmark Open etc., and lost to him at Macau Open in a close match."
In other women's singles matches, Neha Pandit crossed the first hurdle, beating Malaysian Jing Yi Tee 21-18 9-21 21-19 in a 48-minute match, while PV Sindhu notched up a 17-21 19-21 win over Chinese Taipei's Tzu Ying Tai.
In the men's doubles, Manish Gupta and Gaurav Venkat prevailed over compatriot Sanjeeth S and Jagadish Yadav 21-14 15-21 21-15, while top Indian pair of Rupesh Kumar and Sanave Thomas also reached the second round after their top-seeded opponents Jae Sung Jung and Yong Dae Lee of Korea gave them a walkover.
However, it was curtains for world number 16 Indians V Diju and Jwala Gutta, who were looking to book a berth for the London Olympics. The Indian duo lost 18-21 19-21 to the Chinese pair of Tao Jiaming and Xia Huan in a 35-minute match.
Saina was in command throughout the match as she opened up a 11-5 lead. Yip tried to claw her way back but couldn't threaten the Indian as she surged to 20-13. Although the Hong Kong girl saved a match point, Saina sealed the game comfortably at 21-14.
The 22-year-old Indian played some deft drops and sharp smashes and made her rival run across the court with good rallies. Even though she missed a few points, Saina never looked out-of-sorts. After leading 11-5, the Indian conceded just one point before sealing the issue in her favour.
In the mixed doubles competition, Jwala and Diju started off slowly but had their noses ahead at 11-10 at the break in the first game. They lost a few points, but with the Chinese succumbing to some unforced errors, the Indians bounced back to join them at 15-15 and then take a 18-17 lead. But a shot at the net and a couple of misjudgements cost them the game.
In the second game, the Indians opened up a 4-1 lead but the Chinese slowly clawed their way back to 4-4 after a wrong service by the visitors were awarded to them. Jwala struggled against the fast smashes of the Chinese and her returns also went wayward, even though Diju provided good cover at the back of the court. The Chinese moved into the break at 11-10 but the Indians came back to lead 17-14. But they once again blew the three-point lead as the Chinese closed the match after Diju hit the shuttle at the nets.
Deeply hurt after the defeat, Jwala said she couldn't give her best as she was put off by the last-minute shift of the timing of her match. "I didn't play well today. My match was shifted at the last minute without informing us. There were two more matches ahead of our match and it was me who went to the referee and asked and he gave us 15 minutes to get ready. Now can you hurry and warm up... It put me off completely," she said. "I don't want to blame but this is why [there was] lack of coordination. Such stupid things can happen in a small tournament, not in a Super Series. I hope such things don't happen again. I couldn't give my 100 percent. Playing well and losing is different but you can't win by playing horribly."
Jwala, however, conceded that the defeat would not affect their Olympics dreams. "I don't think it will have any bearing on our Olympic qualification as we are not defending any points here. I have to put this behind and play in the women's doubles. I don't have an option," she said.
Among other Indians, National Games champion Arundhati Pantawane suffered a heartbreak when she lost 9-21 11-21 to fourth seed Chinese Yanjiao Jiang in the women's singles, while RMV Gurusaidutt played his heart out before losing.
Tarun Kona and Arun Vishnu suffered a 15-21 10-21 defeat at the hands of the Indonesian pair of Angga Pratama and Ryan Agung Saputra in the men's doubles, while Gopi Raju G and Shivam Sharma lost 7-21 15-21 to the Malaysian pair of V Shem Goh and Khim Wah Lim.
Up against third seeds Chinese Biao Chai and Zhendong Guo, the Indian pair of Mayank Behal and Manjush Mohan KK lost 9-21 7-21, while in another match fourth seeds Mohammad Ahsan and Bona Septano of Indonesia taught a lesson or two to Sumeeth Reddy B and Hemanagendra Babu T, beating the Indian pair 21-12 21-13.
Manu Attri and Jishnu Sanyal also fell by the wayside, losing 13-21 17-21 to Adam Cwalina and Michal Logosz of Indonesia. Another men's doubles pair of Bennet Antony and Suraj PH also succumbed to a 17-21 12-21 defeat to the Korean pair of Ki Jung Kim and Sa Rang Kim.
Pradnya Gadre and Prajakta Sawant lost 21-19 11-21 10-21 to Duanganong Aroonkesorn and Kunchala Voravichitchaikul.
In the mixed doubles, Pranav Chopra and Prajakta Sawant also suffered a similar fate as they squandered a first-game lead to go down 21-16 19-21 11-21 to the Japanese pair of Noriyasu Hirata and Miyuki Maeda.
Seventh seeds Japanese Shintaro Ikeda and Reiko Shiota sent packing the Indian pair of Arun Vishnu and Aparna Balan 21-9 21-19 in a 29-minute match, while Akshay Dewalkar and Pradnya Gadre lost to third-seeded Koreans Yong Dae Lee and Jung Eun Ha 18-21 15-21.
Manu Attri and Siki Reddy N also lost their match against Singaporeans Danny Bawa Chrisnanta and Yu Yan Vanessa Neo 11-21 21-17 15-21, while Hemanagendra Babu T and Jyotshna P went down 13-21 13-21 to the Chinese pair of Hanbin He and Yixin Bao.