Indian prodigies Saina Nehwal and HS Prannoy have crashed out of China Open after losing their respective second round encounters in Shanghai. The former lost to the fifth seed and World’s number 4 Akane Yamaguchi of Japan 21-18, 21-11, while the latter lost out to 53rd-ranked Cheuk Yiu Lee of China 21-19, 21-17.
It was an utterly disappointing result for the Indian battalion given that the likes of Sourabh Verma, Ashwini Ponnappa, N. Sikki Reddy and others had already bowed out of the tournament.
HS Prannoy, who had defeated South Korean Lee Dong Keun 18-21, 21-16, 21-19 to reach the second round, lost to Cheuk Yiu Lee in just 42 minutes. The first game was evenly poised, but the Chinese somehow managed to grab the win. The second game, however, was a cake-walk for Lee and with the win, he has now entered the round of 16 of the tournament.
It was always going to be a tough encounter for Saina given that she was entering the round on the back of a 1-3 head to head record against Akane Yamaguchi. A defeat means the Hisar-born shuttler has now lost all four of her matches against Yamaguchi this year.
Saina – who had defeated Beiwen Zhang of the United States 21-12, 21-13 in the previous round – had a disappointing outing given that Akane Yamaguchi had an easy run against the former World’s number 1. Like Prannoy, Saina tried giving her opponent a run for her money, but to no avail. Losing the first game by just a three-point margin, Saina lost her focus in the second game and lost eight consecutive points, eventually handing her opponent the match at 21-11.
With that being done, PV Sindhu now remains the only Indian hope in the tournament. The Hyderabad-born shuttler – who defeated World No 13 Sayaka Sato at 24-22, 23-21 on Wednesday – faces Chinese qualifier, Han Yue. It will be the first meeting for these two and Han who is ranked a lowly 105th, will be hoping to leave a mark.