Sindhu, Srikanth make spectacular begins; Sameer stuns world No. 10 Lee at Thailand Open

Bangkok, January 19

PV Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth notched up straight-game wins, while Sameer Verma shocked world No. 10 Lee Zii Jia as Indian shuttlers made impressive starts at the Toyota Thailand Open Super 1000 tournament here on Tuesday.

A week after being sent packing by Denmark’s Mia Blichfeldt in the first event of the Asia leg, world champion Sindhu showed great discipline and focus to see off world No. 12 Busanan 21-17 21-13 in the women’s singles opener.

In men’s singles, former world No. 1 Srikanth, who had withdrawn ahead of the second round last week due to a calf muscle pull, seemed to have recovered completely as he decimated another Thai player Sitthikom Thammasin 21-11 21-11 in 37 minutes.

But the highlight of the day was the lion-hearted performance by world No. 31 Sameer, who stunned eighth seed Lee 18-21 27-25 21-19 in a thrilling opening match.

“In the second game my ankle was hurting a bit. I was not mentally prepared for this tournament. I was down during the interval of the second game, and my coach told me to just focus on playing my own style,” said Sameer.

“It was all about my mind. I think this will give me confidence for the rest of the tournament,” he added.

Olympic hopeful Saina Nehwal, however, bowed out after losing 17-21 8-21 to former world champion and home favourite Ratchanok Inthanon in a lop-sided contest.

Saurabh Verma, brother of Sameer, was also knocked out, going down 16-21 11-21 to fifth seed Anthony Ginting of Indonesia, while Parupalli Kashyap retired at 0-3 against Denmark’s Rasmus Gemke.

The men’s doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty pulled off a hard fought 22-20 28-26 win over compatriots Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy in the opening round clash.

In the mixed doubles event, Satwik paired with Ashwini Ponnappa to dispatch the Danish duo of Niclas Nohr and Amalie Magelund 23-21 21-18 in 40 minutes to enter the second round.

The win against Busanan took Sindhu’s head-to-head count against the Thai to 11-1. The only time the Indian lost to the Thai player was at the Hong Kong Open in 2019.

“It was a good game and I’m very, very happy. This win was very important for me in this tournament because at last week’s tournament, I went out in the first round,” Sindhu said after the match.

“So this win today was important, because even though in the first game it was tight, I didn’t want to make it easy,” she added.

Sindhu will face either Korea’s Sung Ji Hyun or Soniia Cheah in the second round.

Sindhu opened up 8-6 lead in the opening game but Busanan managed to turn the tables, gaining a 13-9 advantage at one stage.

The Indian slowly erased the deficit and moved to 18-16 lead before earning the bragging rights.

After the change of sides, Sindhu seemed more determined as she zoomed to a 7-2 lead before entering the break with 11-5 advantage.

Sindhu reached 19-8 with five straight points. She then mistimed a shot and Busanan produced a cross-court smash. Sindhu also lost a point at the net.

But Busanan eventually hit wide to hand seven match points to Sindhu and the Indian sealed the contest with a powerful smash. PTI

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