Japan Open: Sindhu to battle Okuhara again

PV Sindhu
(Image: Twitter)

Tokyo: Indian ace shuttler PV Sindhu would once again meet Japanese Nozomi Okuhara for the third time in three successive competitions after the former won a tough contest against another experienced Japanese in the form of Minatsu Mitani.

Sindhu was easily defeated in the first game by world no.19 Mitani but the Korea Open champion fought back hard to outplay the the Japanese 12-21, 21-15, 21-17 and set up a clash against World Championship gold medallist Okuhara on Thursday. Talking of the head-to-head clash between the two, both Sindhu and Okuhara share a 4-4 record. But Sindhu would be high on confidence going into the match as she had got the better of her Japanese opponent in the recently concluded Korea Open Super Series.

Unseeded Saina Nehwal however registered a straight sets victory over Thailand’s Pornpawee Chochuwong to make it to the next round. Saina, who had clinched the bronze medal at the World Championships this year took just 40 minutes to beat the 19-year-old Pornpawee 21-17, 21-9.

Saina will now face Olympic champion Carolina Marin on Thursday which would be one match that badminton fans all over the world would look forward to. Talking of the head-to-head record, the 27-year-old Saina enjoys a 4-3 advantage over Carolina but would have to start from scratch once again if she has to defeat the Spanish.

In the men’s singles category, Kidambi Srikanth once again rose to the occasion as he defeated China’s Tian Houwei 21-15, 12-21, 21-11 in a 64-minute contest to progress to the second round. This victory undoubtedly would be a memorable one for the 24-year-old shuttler from Hyderabad as he had lost to the Chinese on six occasions earlier. This victory takes their head-to-head record to 2-6 in Tian’s favour.

Srikanth, the Indonesia and Australian Open Super Series champion would now take on Hong Kong’s Hu Yun Hu for a place in the quarter-final.

Talking to The Times of India after the win, Srikanth said, “It was a close match. I always wanted to stay focused and it worked well for me today. It was a good win today in three sets and the kind of start I wanted.”

HS Prannoy too started off with a bang as he went past Denmark’s Anders Antonsen in straight sets to advance to the next round. Antonsen, who is often touted as having all the ingredients to become a future champion was dispatched with ease 21-12, 21-17.

Prannoy, the world no.18 would now face world no.27 Chinese Taipei’s Jen Hao Hsu who is yet to lose a match against the Indian.

“Overall it was a good match. I didn’t give him easy chances to attack so it was working well for me. It was the start which I wanted here in Tokyo. After a convincing win against the Dane and I am ready for tomorrow’s pre-quarterfinals,” Prannoy said after the win.

The Day 1 results-

Men’s singles: Kidambi Srikanth bt Tian Houwei (China) 21-15, 12-21, 21-11; HS Prannoy bt Anders Antonsen (Denmark) 21-12, 21-14; Sameer Verma bt Khosit Phetpradab (Thailand) 21-12, 21-19; Sourabh Verma lost to 7-Lin Dan (China) 21-11, 15-21, 13-21; B Sai Praneeth lost to Lee Dong Keun (Korea) 23-21, 17-21, 14-21.

Women’s singles: PV Sindhu bt Minatsu Mitani (Japan) 12-21, 21-15, 21-17; Saina Nehwal bt Pornpawee Chochuwong (Thailand) 21-17, 21-9.

Men’s doubles: Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty lost to 3-Marcus Fernaldi Gideon-Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo (Indonesia) 25-27, 15-21; Manu Attri-B Sumeeth Reddy lost to 8-Lee Jhe-Huei-Lee Yang (Chinese Taipei) 18-21, 15-21.

Women’s doubles: Ashwini Ponnappa-Sikki Reddy lost to 3-Chang Ye Na-Lee So Hee (Korea) 17-21, 12-21.

Mixed doubles: Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Ashwini Ponnappa bt Tinn Isriyanet-Pacharapun Chochuwong (Thailand) 21-17, 21-13.

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