Lakshya, Prannoy commence campaign with fluent victories, Saina in 2nd round of Yonex India Open
New Delhi, January 12, 2022
World Championship bronze medalist Lakshya Sen and contender H S Prannoy started their campaign with fluent victories in the Yonex-Sunrise India Open Badminton here on Wednesday.
Former champion Saina Nehwal also moved into the next round with her Czech Republic rival Tereza Svabikova retiring midway through the match due to injury.
Lakshya lived up to his World Championship reputation as he outplayed Egypt’s Adam Hatem Elagmal 21-15, 21-7 in a one-sided encounter while Prannoy made short work of Spaniard Pablo Abian 21-14, 21-7.
Another foreign player to make his exit was Frenchman Arnaud Merkel who went down fight to Mithun Manjunath 16-21, 21-15, 10-21.
Saina advanced after Svabikova retired at the start of the second game due to injury with the Indian leading 22-20, 1-0.
In the women's section, two other promising youngsters Malvika Bansod and Aakarshi Kashyap chalked out easy wins.
In an all Indian affair, Bansod overcame spirited Samiya Imad Farooqui 21-18, 21-9 while Kashyap made short work off Anura Prabhudesai 21-14, 21-14 in the opening round.
“It is a good start," said young Lakshya after the win. Adam, winner of the mixed doubles title at the African championship, put up some resistance in the first game but the fourth seed came back strongly in the second game and finished the match without much ado.
Prannoy took just 33 minutes to wrap up his first round assignment. His rival from Spain started aggressively and raced to a 6-2 lead before the Indian took control of the proceedings with a flurry of down-the-line smashes and dictated the net exchanges to snuff out the Spaniard's challenge.
Prannoy will next face Mithun, who had to wage a tough battle to get past France’s Merkle.
The Indian took time to get used to Merkle’s style of play in the opening game and he indulged in long rallies to get into a rhythm and won the first game. The Frenchman came back strongly in the second game with much more attacking intent that allowed him to race to a 10-5 lead. Mithun did claw his way back and the game went neck to neck till 12-12 before Merkle clinched six straight points to force the decider.
Mithun clearly had more stamina in the decider and that proved enough for him to advance to the second round after spending an hour and five minutes on the court.
However, all eyes were on obviously on fourth seed Saina‘s match against Svabikova as the Indian was returning from an injury lay-off.
Saina began well as she raced to a 7-2 lead and then consolidated her position at 16-10 before her tentative movement on the forecourt meant that Svabikova could start controlling the rallies and the world No. 142 won eight of the next nine points to take the lead for the first time in the game.
She then earned her first game point and it looked like Saina was feeling the heat. But the Indian used her experience to level scores with a deft net play and then won the next two points to pocket the game.
At this stage when the match was nicely warming up, Svabikova suffered a back injury on the very first point of the second game and retired as she could not even stand on her feet and had to be stretchered out.
While Saina felt sad for Svabikova, she was happy to get another match to play on Thursday as she is also looking to find her rhythm after multiple issues with her right knee forced her to pull out of the World Championships last month.
“For me match practice is lacking… She was giving me a good fight but unfortunately she got injured and had to give up,” said Saina, who started training only over a week ago and believes she needs more time to be fully match fit.
She will now face compatriot Malvika Bansod in the second round.
Bansod, winner of the All India Senior ranking meet in Hyderabad, struggled to take control of the rallies in the opening game against Farooqui, who ran her close till the first mid-game interval. But just when it looked like the match could go down to the wire, the left-handed Nagpur girl started to become more aggressive and bagged the first game. The second game was then a cakewalk.
In the doubles, fancied Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty ousted Ravi and Chirag Arora 21-14,21-10.