New Delhi: On a high after clinching the Thailand Open title last week, Indian ace Saina Nehwal started her campaign at the Indonesia Open Super Series Premier with a thrilling three-game victory over Japan's Sayaka Sato in the women's singles competition in Jakarta on Wednesday.
Fifth seed Saina saw off Sato 21-12 14-21 21-17 in a hard-fought match that lasted 57 minutes at the Istora Gelora Bung Karno Stadium.
The world number five Indian will next take on qualifier Aprilla Yuswandaroi of Indonesia on Thursday.
Saina played long rallies and accumulated points with her better net play. After an initial fight till 6-6, Saina broke off to bag the first game and take a 1-0 lead in the match.
In the second game, Saina had a 12-5 lead but blew it off as Sato caught up with her at 13-13 before winning six straight points to level the match 1-1.
In the decider, Saina opened up a 8-1 lead and kept her nose ahead to seal the issue comfortably in the end. This was her fifth victory over Sato.
The other Olympic-bound Indian shuttlers had a mixed day with P Kashyap and mixed doubles pair of V Diju and Jwala Gutta making it to the second round. Jwala and Ashwini Ponnappa, however, lost their doubles opening round match.
In the men's singles, Kashyap survived a scare before prevailing 21-19 19-21 21-16 over Kevin Cordon of Guatemala in a match that lasted an hour and five minutes.
Diju and Jwala notched up a thrilling 14-21 21-11 21-16 victory over Korean combo of Yeon Seong Yoo and Ye Na Jang in a 50-minute match. The world number 14 Indians will next take on Tao Jiaming and Xia Huan, ranked 34th, in the second round tomorrow.
However, Commonwealth Games gold medallist pair of Jwala and Ashwini lost 13-21 17-21 to second seeds Qing Tian and Yunlei Zhao of China in the women's doubles competition.
Among other Indians, Ajay Jayaram saw off Viktor Axelsen of Denmark 21-16 21-14 in 33 minutes. He will next clash with the winner between Indonesian Dionysius Hayom Rumbaka and fourth seed Japanese Sho Sasaki.
However, it was curtains for the rest of Indians in the tournament.
Rising shuttler Sourabh Varma suffered a 18-21 14-21 defeat to seventh seeded Indonesian Simon Santosa in the men's singles.
Mixed double pair of Tarun Kona and Ashwini lost to Indonesian combo of Riky Widianto and Puspita Richi Dili 16-21 10-21, while Pradnya Gadre and Prajakta Sawant suffered a 21-23 19-21 19-21 loss to Melvira Oklamona and Khaeriah Rosmini of Indonesia in the women's doubles event.
Tarun and Arun Vishnu also couldn't cross the first hurdle, losing 14-21 13-21 to third seed Danish pair of Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen in men's doubles competition.