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PV Sindhu Achieves Career-Best Rank of 7, Saina Nehwal Back in Top 10

PV Sindhu Achieves Career-Best Rank of 7, Saina Nehwal Back in Top 10

New Delhi: Olympic silver medallist P V Sindhu jumped two places to achieve her career-best ranking of seven in the world while Saina Nehwal was also back in the top 10 in the latest BWF World Ranking.

Sindhu, who clinched the China Open and then reached the finals at the Hong Open, has 68,699 ranking points. She will carry India hopes at the Dubai Super Series Final, a prestigious tournament she qualified for the first time.

Former World No. 1 Saina, who is on a comeback trail after recovering from a serious injury, improved a spot after slipping five places to 11th place last week.

K Srikanth, who is out of action since undergoing an injury, slipped a place to World No. 13, while Hong Kong Finalist Sameer Verma jumped 13 places to be World No. 30.

Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy slipped a place to World No. 23rd.

PV Sindhu under no pressure to win after Rio success

An Olympic medal was PV Sindhus dream from early in her career. And winning the silver medal in her maiden Games in Rio has pushed the 21-year-old out of the shadows of her illustrious compatriot Saina Nehwal and elevated her to a status India usually reserves for its cricketers.

Its easy to be swayed when under the spotlight and showered with monetary incentives, but Sindhu vows to be different.
I got back to training as soon as I could to prepare for the Denmark and French Opens, she smiles. She lost in the second round in both events last month, but is not disheartened. Im training for the China and Hong Kong Opens (starting next week). Weve been looking at what went wrong and are rectifying them. There have been slight changes in the training sessions.
She towers over most of her opponents, but has struggled for the kind of consistency that took her to the final of the Rio Games. Her body language has transformed, confidence level has zoomed.
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The 21year-old credits the Rio run for that. My life has changed. The responsibilities are more, she says in a matter-of-fact manner. I know all eyes are going to be on me but I shouldnt take it as pressure. If I keep thinking I have to win, thats putting extra pressure on me. I should just stay focused on doing my best, Sindhu said on the sidelines of the Premier Badminton League auction here on Wednesday.
Saina, who won bronze at the London Olympics, suffered a knee injury at Rio, and her surgery and comeback attempt has set the social media abuzz.
Only last year, Sindhu had found herself in a similar situation after being forced to miss almost three months due to a stress fracture on her left foot. I was very upset but my parents and coach motivated me. Touch wood, everything is perfect now. Ive done my rehab. Injuries are part of life. You just have to be strong enough to face it.
Saina will make her comeback in the China Open and the two can meet in the quarters. After Sindhus silver, the social media even suggested it was time for Saina to pack her bags.
Sindhu has never beaten Saina in a competitive match. During an injury, everyone is going to be upset thinking what will happen next. Its good she (Saina) has come out of that. Now she has to be confident to face whatever comes (her way).
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Indian Shuttlers Continue to Impress at Canada Open

Indian Shuttlers Continue to Impress at Canada Open

Calgary: India witnessed another fruitful at the Canada Open as all its shuttlers, including Ajay Jayaram and H S Prannoy, entered the third round of the USD 55,000 Grand Prix badminton tournament.

Top seed Jayaram struggled past Canada’s Martin Giuffre 17-21 21-17 21-13 in a 54-minute match to set up a fight with Austria’s David Obernosterer.

Second seed H S Prannoy also made it to the pre-quarters after a hard-fought 13-21 21-11 21-15

win over Sweden’s Mattias Borg in another men’s singles match. He will next take on B R Sankeerth of Canada.

Commonwealth Games bronze medallist, RMV Gurusaidutt also stormed into the next round after an easy 21-8 21-6 win over local shuttler Jonathan Lai and will now face eighth seed Raul Must of Estonia next.

Fourth seed B Sai Praneeth had to dug deep to eke out a 26-24 21-16 victory over Chinese Taipei’s Kan Chao Yu to set up a clash against Wenchao Shi of Canada.

Young shuttler Pratul Joshi

also registered a 21-13 21-12 win over Scotland’s Alistair Casey and his next match will be against fellow Indian Harsheel Dani.

In women’s singles, 2015 National Champion Ruthvika Shivani Gadde defeated local player Kyleigh O’ Donoghue 21-14 21-14. She will next face Austria’s Elisabeth Baldauf.

Runners-up at 2016 Senior National championship, Tanvi Lad also made it to the prequarterfinals after defeating Denmark’s Julie Finne-Ipsen 21-17 21-10 and will face Maya Chen

of USA next.

Among other Indians, mixed doubles pair of Manu Attri and Ashwini Ponnappa beat local combo of Byron Holcek and Erin O’Donoghue 21-13 21-14 to set up a clash against another local pair of Jonathan Lai and Michelle Tong.

Rio-bound Indian men’s doubles pair of Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy, top seeded, will face Canadian combo of Timothy Chiu and Jason Ho-Shue.

Saina Nehwal Credits Virat Kohli For Her Aggressive Gameplay

Saina Nehwal, while attributing Indian Test skipper Virat Kohli for her attacking style, said that more aggression leads to better performance

Hyderabad: Surprised at her new found aggression, India’s No 1 badminton player Saina Nehwal is confident that she would persist with her attacking style of play which enabled her to win Australia Super Series Championship.

Just like she had mentioned on her twitter account, Saina attributed her attacking style to Virat Kohli’s recent exploits.

“In Australia, I was surprised to see myself being more aggressive. I was not doing that for a long time. But here, I was attacking a lot more. I was very, very aggressive and that’s what I have learnt. I hope, in future matches also, I retain my aggression and continue attacking,” Saina told reporters during a media conference on Tuesday.

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Congratulations @NSaina
So happy for you. Onwards and Upwards always #ProudIndian

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Citing the example of India’s Test captain, Saina said,”All the players, if you see badminton, Carolina (Marin), she got very aggressive game. I really wish to have that aggressiveness, how Virat (Kohli) has got. He is playing really well these days. Every match he is performing so well. He is very aggressive on the field. So, the more aggressive you are, the better you perform.

“Because, it gives lot more confidence, lot more speed to move on the court. That’s what I have been seeing on the field,” she said.

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I would love to get more aggression like u for winning more matches ☺️I m trying hard for that 👍Thank u so much 🙏🙏https://twitter.com/imvkohli/status/741989679508119552

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The title victory came after a gap of more than a year and the star player is elated.

“I am really very happy. The last title I won was last year in March — the India Open. After that, I played two finals at the World championships and China Open. I am very happy, because I had one severe injury. I came out of it. I was struggling with the injury for couple of months. This victory was required before the Olympics in August,” said the ace badminton player.

“I was looking for a victory so that I get the confidence to play against all top players,” she added.

What has been satisfying for Saina is the fact that all matches at the Australia Super Series were against top-class opponents.

“All the matches were really tough; in the quarters I played Ratchanok Intanon, then Wang Yihan and in the finals, it was a close match. Really very happy with this victory of course, it will give me confidence to work hard. With Olympics coming up, I just hope to maintain my fitness and remain injury-free which is very important,” she said.

“With the hard work, I am putting in, there will be better results coming in the future,” she exuded confidence of an Olympic bronze medallist.

Noting that every player would be coming into Olympics with best preparations, Saina said she would like to give her all at the quadrennial extravaganza.

“Every player who is playing Olympics has a dream of wanting to win a medal. I am one of them. Definitely, I want to do well and win another medal. But, it’s not that easy. It’s a very tough tournament.

“All the players will be very well prepared. Everyone has a chance to win a medal in such a tournament. This time, my father will be accompanying me to Brazil. I hope to come back with a medal. But, it’s not going to be easy. I will try my best,” she said.

Saina said her on-court reflexes were affected because of the injury but things are better now.

“I want to be more aggressive, more faster, more quicker on the court. Because of the injury, my movements came down, my reflexes came down. I feel I am back in the rythm and I am moving quite fast,” she said.

Replying to a query, Saina said her coach Vimal Kumar and Umendra Rana, who accompanied her to Indonesia, helped her a lot.

“Vimal sir is helping a lot. I would also like to thank Umendra Rana, who accompanied me to Indonesia and Australia as a travelling coach. He is also helping me a lot. Both of them are looking as to how I can improve my strokes. Because of injury, I was not moving that well in the last few months. But in this tournament, I saw myself moving quite comfortably. I was hitting more smashes,” she explained the technical improvements made in the past few months.

Observing that competition has become tough, especially in women’s singles, she hoped that results will be good with sound planning. Asked if the expectations and wishes pouring in from VIPs, celebrities and others, sometimes on the social media, she expressed happiness for the love she got from all well-wishers.

“Expectations do put pressure on a player. I won’t deny that. But, at the same time, I have to work hard and I have to be confident. Results don’t come just like that. If I take pressure on myself, results won’t be good. The team with me, my mother, Vimal sir and Umendra sir always keep in positivity. I hope to do well in olympics and make my country proud,” she said.

Replying to a query, she said she is happy over Abhinav Bindra being selected as India’s flag bearer in the Olympics. Asked about Vimal Kumar’s reported comments that he would like to see Saina “tactically much better against Chinese”, she said she needed to improve in few areas.

“Definitely. While I rate myself as the most hard-working player, technically though I still need to improve. I was not talented since childhood. I always depended on hard work. I just want to see, technically, whatever Vimal sir was saying, half slashes, I need to work on them,” she said. Saina said she had regrets that she was not winning titles, especially at the start of this year.

“I was world No 2 and then I came down to No 8 and then I was not winning the titles. India Open, I was very close to win against Li Xuerui. I thought I would be playing in finals. That did not happen. One more semi-finals at the Malaysia Open. Lot of losses to Wang Yihan. They were troubling me. In fact, when I went to Indonesia and Australia, I was not thinking of winning the tournament. The main thing was to play well against all these playlers. “Finally, I am going to meet them in Olympics. I did not get the tme to train. I was always on the rehab side in February. Somewhere, I had the doubt that will I be able to win the tournament. Finally, with this victory, I am in that zone of winning tournaments,” she said.

She said she would like to go four-five days to the Olympics to get adjusted to the conditions.

Saina Nehwal, K Srikanth Vault Two Spots in BWF Rankings

Saina Nehwal, K Srikanth Vault Two Spots in BWF Rankings

New Delhi: Star shuttler Saina Nehwal’s second Australian Open title propelled her two rungs up to the sixth spot while Kidambi Srikanth also rose similarly to No.11 in the latest Badminton World Federation (BWF) rankings for women’s and men’s singles respectively.

Saina’s statemate PV Sindhu, however, retained her No.10 spot in the rankings, which witnessed South Korea’s Sung Ji Hyun and China’s Wang Shixian dropping one spot each to be at No.7 and No.8 respectively. Spain’s Carolina Marin continues to lead the women’s singles table.

In men’s singles, Srikanth, who reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open, was the lone Indian shuttler to rise while his compatriots Ajay Jayaram, B. Sai Praneeth dropped three spots to be placed at No.24 and No.33 respectively.

Sameer Verma also dropped two spots to be at No.37 while injured Parupalli Kashyap dropped a rung to be at the 68th spot.

In women’s doubles, Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponappa also dropped a place to be positioned No.16.

India Women Closer to Quarters, Men Face Early Exit

India Women Closer to Quarters, Men Face Early Exit

China: Saina Nehwal guided the Indian women to a dominating 5-0 win over Germany to stay on course for a knockout berth in the Uber Cup, but the men’s team suffered a narrow 2-3 defeat against Hong Kong, as they stared at an early exit in Thomas Cup badminton tournament here on Tuesday.

It turned out to be another disappointing day for the men’s team after Ajay Jayaram lost the opening singles and Rio-bound pair of Manu Attri and Sumeeth Reddy and young combo of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty also lost their respective doubles matches.

Sai Praneeth and Sourabh Verma restored some pride with thrilling victories in the second and third singles to narrow down the margin of defeat.

Later in the day, Saina and P V Sindhu enthralled the spectators with straight-game wins in the women’s singles and Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa then bounced back from a game down to eke out a win in the first women’s doubles and take an unassailable 3-0 lead.

Starting the proceedings for Indian women’s team, London Olympic bronze medallist Saina thrashed Fabienne Deprez 21-15 21-10, while World No. 10 Sindhu brushed aside Luise Heim 21-7 21-12 to give India a 2-0 lead.

2010 Commonwealth Games gold medallists, Jwala and Ashwini prevailed over Linda Efler and Lara Kaepplein 14-21 21-9 21-8 in a 41-minute clash in the first doubles to give India a 3-0 advantage.

In the last two inconsequential matches, Ruthvika Shivani Gadde trounced Yvonne Li 21-5 21-15, while N Sikki Reddy and Sindhu paired up to beat Isabel Herttrich and Franziska Volkmann 21-18 19-21 22-20 in the second doubles.

India will take on the 2014 runners-up Japan in a Group D match tomorrow. The Indian eves had lost 2-3 to Japan in the semifinals of the last edition.

Earlier, world number 21 Jayaram opened the proceedings for India against Ng Ka Long Angus, ranked 11th, but his fight ended with a 13-21 12-21 loss in little over half an hour.

Manu and Sumeeth, the first men’s doubles pair to qualify for Olympics, also lost the opening doubles, going down 19-21 12-21 in 32 minutes as India lagged behind 0-2.

Saina Nehwal Aims Strong Showing for India in Thomas and Uber Cup

Saina Nehwal, who will lead the Indian Women’s team in the Uber Cup, will aim for a solid showing in the tournament after securing bronze in the last edition.After clinching a historic bronze medal in the last edition, the Indian women’s team, led by Saina Nehwal, will eye another good show but it will be an uphill task for the depleted men’s team at the Thomas and Uber Cup badminton tournament starting in China on Sunday.

Indian women had reached the quarterfinal for the first time at the 2010 Uber Cup in Kuala Lumpur but it was only in 2014 in New Delhi when they clinched their maiden bronze after going down 2-3 to five-time champions Japan in their maiden semifinals appearance.

Indian women’s team have been clubbed with 2014 runners-up

Japan, Australia and Germany and once again the onus will be on Rio-bound shuttlers Saina and P V Sindhu to earn them wins in the two singles. The choice of the third singles player will be among Ruthvika Shivani Gadde, Tanvi Lad and P C Thulasi.

In a format comprising of three singles and two doubles, once again it will be 2010 Commonwealth Games champions Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa — both have booked their Rio berth — who will carry the responsibility. Besides, there will be N Sikki Reddy and K Maneesha for the second doubles.

Indian women will face Australia in their campaign opener on Monday, before taking on Germany and the formidable Japan in the next two days respectively.

In Thomas Cup competition, Ajay Jayaram will spearhead the Indian challenge while World No. 12 K Srikanth gave it a miss and H S Prannoy was left nursing a foot injury.

In their absence, the onus will be on B Sai Praneeth, national champion Sameer Verma and his elder brother Sourabh to step up and take responsibility in the three singles.

In the doubles, Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy, who became the first Indian men’s doubles pair to qualify for the Olympics, will lead the challenge. Besides them, Akshay Dewalkar, young R Satwik Sai Raj of Andhra Pradesh and Mumbai’s Chirag Shetty would complete the line-up.

India has been clubbed in Group B alongwith Indonesia, Thailand and Hong Kong and though it seems like a relatively easy draw, the absence of top players will hurt India’s chances to progress to the knockout stage in what is only their eighth appearance in the prestigious event.

“Srikanth and Prannoy’s absence will be a setback, but Sameer and Sai have had some encouraging results of late and hopefully we can step up to the task and get some good wins,” Jayaram told PTI.

Indian men will open their campaign against Thailand tomorrow and then square off against Hong Kong and Indonesia on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“We are definitely in a tough group and getting through to the quarters is going to be an uphill task. All 3 group stage ties will be crucial. However, I believe that if we can get off to a good start by getting the better of Thailand it will be good moral boost,” said Jayaram.

“It’s hard to pick out any particular match that we will rely on as it is a well balanced team and every member will play a crucial role in getting the team through.”

Since its inception in 1948-49, the Thomas Cup has been won by only four nations: Malaya/Malaysia, Indonesia, China and Japan while the Indian team failed to reach the knockout stage till 2006.

In 2006, it was the men’s team which broke the jinx by reaching the quarterfinals. In 2010, India lost to Indonesia 0-3 in the quarterfinals. In the last edition, India could not go beyond the group stage.

Indian Women Thrash Australia 5-0 in Uber Cup

Indian Women Thrash Australia 5-0 in Uber Cup

Kunshan: Indian women made a stupendous start to their campaign at the Uber Cup badminton tournament by thrashing Australia 5-0 here on Monday.

The Indian women, who had created history by clinching the bronze medal in the last edition at New Delhi, won all the three singles and both the doubles to grab maximum points at the Kunshan Sports Center Stadium here.

World No. 8 Saina Nehwal started the proceedings for India and after a brief struggle against World No. 74 Hsuan-Yu Wendy Chen, notched up a 22-20 21-14 win to give India a 1-0 lead.

Two-time bronze medallist at World Championship, P V Sindhu then brushed aside Joy Lai in 25 minutes to make it 2-0 in their favour.

Celebrated women’s doubles pair of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa dished out a clinical performance to get across Hsuan-Yu Wendy and Gronya Somerville 21-9 21-15 in a 28-minute match.

South Asian Games gold-medallist, Ruthvika Shivani Gadde then hammered Tiffany Ho 21-5 21-11 in the third singles, while Sikki Reddy N and Sindhu dismantled Leanne Choo and Joy Lai 21-12 21-12 to complete the 5-0 drubbing here.

In the opening singles match, Saina had opened a 5-0 lead early on but Chen narrowed it down to 7-8. The Indian once surged ahead to 14-7 but Chen slowly and steadily made her way back to catch up with her at 19-19.

Saina, however, had the last laugh as she grabbed two points from 20-20 to pocket the first game.

In the second, Chen had zoomed to a 13-7 lead but Saina reeled off nine straight points to turn the tables and didn’t look back to seal the issue.

India will take on Germany on Tuesday in their next Group D match.

Shuttlers Jwala, Ashwini Rise One Spot in World Rankings

Shuttlers Jwala, Ashwini Rise One Spot in World Rankings

New Delhi: The 2010 Commonwealth Games champion duo of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponappa rose one rung to No.14 in the Badminton World Federation (BWF) rankings in women’s doubles while the men’s doubles combo of Manu Attri and B. Sumeeth Reddy slipped a spot to be positioned at the 20th spot.

In men’s singles, H.S. Prannoy jumped two places to reach the 25th spot while both Kidambi Srikanth and Ajay Jayaram lost a spot each to be placed 12th and 21st respectively. China’s Chen Long continues to hold on to the top spot.

In women’s singles, there was no major change as Saina Nehwal and P.V. Sindhu retained their spots at No 8 and 10 respectively. Spain’s Carolina Marin dethroned Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon to take the Numero Uno spot while the Asian shuttler settled at the second spot.

There are no Indians in the top 25 in mixed doubles.

BWF Rankings Seal 7 Indian Shuttlers Rio 2016 Olympic Dreams

BWF Rankings Seal 7 Indian Shuttlers Rio 2016 Olympic Dreams

New Delhi: Seven Indian shuttlers, including Saina Nehwal and Jwala Gutta, officially earned qualification berths for the August Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro after the much-awaited BWF world rankings were released on Thursday.

Thursday’s rankings were used to determine the Olympic qualifiers in each of the five categories — men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s doubles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles — from the points accumulated in the period between May 4, 2015 and May 1st, 2016.

Four years ago, five Indians had qualified at London Olympics. This year, London Olympics bronze medallist Saina would be representing India in her third Games, while the women’s doubles pair of Jwala and Ashwini Ponnappa will also play their second Olympics in August.

Besides, K Srikanth and P V Sindhu earned their maiden Olympic berths in men’s singles and women’s events respectively. For the first time, India will have two women’s singles players playing in the Olympics.

Other countries with two representatives in women’s singles are China (Li Xuerui, Wang Yihan); Japan (Nozomi Okuhara and Akane Yamaguchi) and Korea (Sung Ji Hyun and Bae Yeon Ju).

This will also be the first time that an Indian men’s doubles pair of Manu Attri and B Summeth Reddy will be representing the country in Olympics.

A total of 172 shuttlers made the cut today for the Rio Olympics, where there will be slight change in qualification quotas for men’s and women’s singles with a maximum quota for singles players from the same National Olympic Committee (NOC) being two places if both players are ranked in the world’s top 16.

In London Olympics, three singles players from an NOC could qualify if they were in the top four of the world rankings.

Now it is similar to the quota for doubles in which there is a maximum of two pairs per NOC if both pairs are ranked in the top eight. The total quota per NOC will therefore be reduced from 18 to 16 (eight male and eight female players).

In each singles event, the number of quota places is around 34. Besides, one place is reserved for the host NOC and three for Tripartite Commission Invitation places. However, there are no Tripartite Commission Invitation places in doubles.

The format of the tournament will be similar to the London Olympics with the players being drawn in separate groups in Round-Robin and then a separate draw will be held ahead of the knock-out stage.

Though the Olympic qualifiers have been determined on the basis of today’s Race to Rio rankings, a final list of qualifiers will be published after the deadline of July 18, which will include the allocation of quota for Tripartite Commission invitation and host country.

Olympic Medal Bigger Than World Championship Medals: Sindhu

Olympic Medal Bigger Than World Championship Medals: Sindhu

Mumbai: With two back-to-back bronze medals in world championships adorning her list of achievements, Rio-bound Indian shuttler P V Sindhu says she will consider it a bigger feat if she could climb the podium on debut during the Olympic Games in August.

“It’s much more than world championships. The ultimate goal for anyone is to get a medal in the Olympics where the conditions and environment are totally different. (But) first of all I am very excited. It’s my first Olympics,” said the 20-year-old Hyderabadi at a media interaction on Friday.

World No. 10 Sindhu and fellow-Hyderabadi Saina Nehwal, ranked two rungs above her currently, will be the two big hopes for the country in the August 5-21 sports spectacle which is to be held for the first time ever in South America.

Sindhu, who will turn 21 exactly a month before the Games Opening, expressed her happiness that a total of seven shuttlers, two more than in London four years ago, had made the grade for the Rio Games.

“It’s great that seven players have been selected for the Olympics, including the women’s doubles team (Jwala Gutta and Arti Ponnappa) for the second time and the men’s doubles team (Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy) for the first time.

“It’s also (K) Srikkanth’s first time (at the Olympics).

He too will be excited. I wish all of us play well and give our best,” said Sindhu, who won singles bronze medals in the 2013 and 2014 world championships held at Guangzhou (China) and Copenhagen (Denmark).

“We have been training hard. We need to push ourselves more. We are doing training off and on court, but the main thing is to keep ourselves fit and healthy. We need to be healthy as well as injury free,” said Sindhu who is supported by not-for-profit organisation, Olympic Gold Quest.

The lanky shuttler was here to get a special insole fitted in the shoe of her right foot which was fractured one year ago and put her off the badminton scene for a considerable period of time. .

Saina Nehwal Seals Semifinal Spot at Asia Badminton Championship

Saina Nehwal Seals Semifinal Spot at Asia Badminton Championshi

Wuhan: Olympic bronze medallist Saina Nehwal continued her consistent run in international circuit, reaching yet another semifinal at the USD 200,000 Asia Badminton Championship here on Friday.

In a battle of long rallies, the 26-year-old Indian held her nerves in tricky situations to eke out a 21-16 21-19 win over former World Champion Shixian Wang of China in the women’s singles quarterfinal that lasted 56 minutes.

The World No. 8 Indian, who had registered semifinal finishes in the Swiss Grand Prix Gold, India Super Series and Malaysia Super Series Premier Open before skipping the Singapore Open, will take on the winner of the match between Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara and China’s Yihan Wang.

Saina, who had lost the last two meetings with Wang, tried to be patient during the energy-sapping rallies but many times she failed to control the shuttle and lost point by hitting wide and long.

In the opening game, Saina lead 3-0 and held a narrow 11-10 advantage at the break but pocketed four straight points to reach 15-10. After a battle for supremacy, Wang narrowed it down to 16-17.

Saina soon grabbed the opening game after gaining a healthy four-point game point advantage and sealed it when Wang misjudged a shuttle and left that at the baseline.

In the second game, Saina once again created a 3-0 lead before Wang snapped it with a smash. Saina produced a cross court smash but hit long next. The Indian committed a series of unforced errors to allow Wang narrow the lead to 5-6.

After a fight, Wang clawed back after catching Saina at the forehand corner near the net and then Saina left one at the back to allow Wang lead 10-9. Saina pushed another one out as Wang lead 11-9 at the break.

The battle continued after the interval and at 11-15, Saina gained three points to make it 14-15. A good net exchange saw Saina draw parity to 16-16. They moved neck and neck till 19-19.

A net error by the Chinese then gave Saina the lead and with Wang hitting another return at the nets meant the Indian was celebrating.

Saina Into Quarters, Sindhu Sinks in Asia Badminton Championship

Saina Into Quarters, Sindhu Sinks in Asia Badminton Championship

Wuhan: Olympic bronze medallist Saina Nehwal on Thursday reached the quarter-finals of the Asia Badminton Championship after brushing aside Thailand’s Nitchaon Jindapol in straight games.

The fifth seeded Indian prevailed 21-14 21-18 over Jindapol to take her head-to-head record to 7-0 against the Thai player. The World No 8 will take on third seeded Chinese Shixian Wang next.

Saina has a 6-7 head-to-head record against Shixian, having lost to her in the last two encounters.

Other Indian in fray, PV Sindhu, however, suffered a narrow 21-13 20-22 8-21 loss against the deceptive Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei in a match that lasted for an hour.

Sindhu will be disappointed to blow away a 12-6 lead in the second game. She was leading for most part before Tai caught up at 15-15 and even though the Indian made it 20-19, she could not close the issue. In the decider, she lost out of her steam.

Saina, on the other hand, hardly broke any sweat as she went about her business with utmost ease. She opened up early leads in both the games and held her fort.

Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu Advance to Second Round at ABC

Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu Advance to Second Round at ABC

Wuhan: Olympic-bound Indian shuttlers, Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu won their respective women’s singles matches to make a resounding start to their campaign at the Badminton Asia Championship here on Wednesday.

Fifth seed Saina disposed off Indonesia’s Fitriani Fitriani 21-16 21-17, while Sindhu brushed aside another Indonesian Maria Febe Kusumastuti 21-10 21-13 in a half an hour contest in the opening round here.

In the next round, World No. 8 Saina will face the winner of the match between Indonesia’s Lindaweni Fanetri and Thailand’s Nitchaon Jindapol, while ranked 10th Sindhu will meet eighth seed Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei.

However, it was a bad day at office for other Indians in the fray here, the last event before the Olympic qualification deadline.

While Korean pair of Chang Ye Na and Lee So Hee defeated India’s Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa 21-15 21-11 in women’s doubles, men’s doubles combo of Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy suffered a 15-21 13-21 loss to fifth seeded Japanese pair of Hiroyuki Endo and Kenichi Hayakawa.

Another men’s doubles pair of Pranaav Jerry Chopra and Akshay Dewalkar also faced defeat, losing 19-21 17-21 to Or Chin Chung and Tang Chun Man of Hong Kong.

Pullela Gopichand Expects Seven Badminton Players to Make it To Rio Olympics

Kidambi Srikanth, PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal, Jwala Gutta, Ashwini Ponnappa and Manu Attri are likely to make it to India’s badminton team to the Olympics, scheduled to be held in August.

Ahmedabad: The injury worries have been never-ending in the past few months but national badminton coach P Gopichand on Saturday said he expects at least seven players to qualify for the upcoming Rio Olympics.

“We will start training in the next couple of months (after the qualification round). We expect to participate in five events, but we will focus more on training now than the tournament,” Gopichand told reporters on sidelines of an event here.

K Srikanth,P V Sindhu, Saina Nehwal, Jwala Gutta, Ashwini Ponnappa, and Manu Attri are among the players likely to make it to India’s badminton team to the Olympics, scheduled to be held in August this year, he said.

“In the last few months some of the players have been struggling with fitness problems but they have continued to play because of qualification. Once it is done, then we have a clear four weeks of training, and two tournaments. After that, we will have six weeks to go for that, so we will focus on training,” he said, referring to the injury sustained by shuttler P Kashyap.

“Six-seven weeks of training will set all the players,” he said.

When asked about the prospects of winning a medal in the doubles event, he said given the format “two good matches at the Olympics could ensure a medal for Indian players”.

On the injury of Kashyap, the world number 17, Gopichand said he expects him to recover soon.

“It is a part of a sportsperson’s life, but it is heartbreak for him to be injured,” the former ace shuttler said.

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