After a poor run at the Yonex Thailand Open, the Indian shuttlers were hoping for a better outcome at the Toyota Thailand Open. The first day of the second edition of the tournament opened on a sweet note with a hint of sourness.
The tournament opened with jubilant victories of PV Sindhu, Kidambi Srikanth, Sameer Verma, mens doubles duo Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty and mixed-doubles duo Ashwini Ponnappa-Satwiksairaj Rankireddy. However, the winning run was broken after Sourabh Verma‘s loss to Anthony Sinisuka Ginting of Indonesia. A big shock hit the Indian camp when ace Indian shuttler, Saina Nehwal crashed out of the contest against local favourite Ratchanok Intanon.
Ace player, Parupalli Kashyap had conceded his opening fixture in the first leg of the tournament owing to a muscle pull. It seems the injury hasn’t fully recovered as he withdrew from his first match on Tuesday as well.
Sweet victories for India
PV Sindhu had a shocking exit in her first match in Yonex Thailand Open. But the reigning world champion avenged the loss with a triumphant straight-game victory against local shuttler Busanan Ongbamrungphan. She not only seemed to get better as the contest progressed but clearly dominated her Thai opponent. The Rio silver medalist played aggressively and maintained her momentum throughout the match. The scores were, 21-17, 21-13.
“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. So this win today was important, because even though in the first game it was tight, I didn’t want to make it easy,” PV Sindhu said after the match.
Former world no. 1 Kidambi Srikanth had pulled out of his second round fixture after a calf muscle strain. But the 2013 Thailand Open winner was in form as he beat local player Sitthikom Thammasin. He cruised into the second round as he made quick work of his Thai opponent in a match that lasted just 38 minutes. Srikanth showed impeccable shuttle control and court presence as he dominated from the start giving his opponent no say. The scores were, 21-11, 21-11.
“I’m pleased with this win. I have been unable to practice for four days as I had a calf strain and that was the reason I withdrew from last week’s tournament. I have been resting and icing the calf, plus I got some practice in yesterday, I’m happy with the win and I’m looking forward to the next round,” Srikanth said.
Mixed doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Ashwini Ponnappa reignited the magic they produced in their opening match in the first leg in the Toyota Thailand Open to beat Danish pair of Niclas Nohr and Amalie Magelund. Their opponents showed some solid performance but a late flurry saw the Indians pick up final six points to win the opening match in a straight-game victory. Rankireddy’s power and Ponnappa’s craft worked it’s magic on court as they progressed to the second round.
Sameer Verma pulled off an unbelievable upset as he beat world no. 8 Lee Zii Jia of Malaysia. Verma showed incredible grit as he battled it out in the nerve wracking three game match. He didn’t let the slip of a sizable lead in the first game disappoint him and carried on. He led the decider game from start to end. Depsite losing three game points he held his nerve to wrap up the match and emerge victorious. The scores were, 18-21, 27-25, 21-19.
“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. It was all about my mind. I think this will give me confidence for the rest of the tournament,” he said.
The All India mens doubles clash was as edge-of-the-seat as it could get as Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty prevailed over Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy. The 2019 Thailand Open winners won in a straight game victory. The scores were, 22-20, 28-26.
The hint of sourness
Ace Indian shuttler Parupalli Kashyap conceded his first fixture against Denmark’s Rasmus Gemke owing to his muscle pull. He had previously withdrew from his opening round in the first edition of the tournament.
Sourabh Verma put up a valiant effort however they didn’t come to fruition as he lost to world no. 6 Anthony Sinisuka Ginting of Indonesia. His opponent’s class was a bit too much for Verma to overcome as he crashed in a straight-game match. The scores were, 16-21, 11-21.
“It was a good match, Ginting was playing really well. I was trying to stick to my strategy but he was too good and very quick today. The conditions on the court are tricky; one side is slow and one side is faster. I selected the slower side but Anthony played really well today,” Verma said.
In what came as a shock to Indian fans, Saina Nehwal exited the Toyota Thailand Open in her opening clash. She lost in two straight games against local favourite Ratchanok Intanon. In what became a disappointing match for Nehwal, she found it difficult to break Intanon’s rhythm. As the match progressed, the Thai shuttler only upped her ante as she gained 10 points while only conceding 3 points to Nehwal. The scores were, 17-21, 8-21.