World Cup bronze medallist PV Sindhu made a winning start in the USD 200,000 Japan Open Super series in Tokyo on Wednesday. Seed No. 8 Sindhu defeated Japanese qualifier Yukino Nakai 21-12, 21-13 in just 29 minutes in a Round 1 match. Sindhu will play Japan's Akane Yamaguchi, another qualifier, in the second round on Thursday.
Interestingly, top-seeded Li Xuerui of China, who was in Sindhu's side of the women's singles draw, is out of the championship. Olympic champion Xuerui gave a first-round walkover to Japanese Aya Ohori. This means Sindhu, barring an upset, should easily make the semifinals where she could face the sixth seed Taiwanese Tzu Ying Tai.
It was Anand Pawar and K Srikanth who created a flutter at the Japan Open as they notched up stunning victories over their higher-ranked opponents in the men's singles competition in Tokyo's Metropolitan Gymnasium.
Pawar scripted a 21-17, 7-21, 21-18 victory over world number 12 Indonesian Sony Dwi Kuncoro, also a 2004 Athens Olympics bronze medallist. The 59-minute battle saw world No. 37 Pawar riding on his clear winners to tackle Kuncoro, who had won the silver and bronze medals at the world championship in 2007 and 2009, respectively.
Thailand Grand Prix gold winner Srikanth, who had been in good form at the Indian Badminton league, also continued his giant-killing act at the Japan Open when he scored a hard-fought 22-20, 22-24, 21-18 win over world number 22 Sho Sasaki of Japan in 68-minute match. Srikanth will face second seed and world No. 2 Chen Long of China next.
In other matches featuring Indian players, Ajay Jayaram prevailed over Chinese Taipei's Tien Chen Chou 21-11, 21-18 but Sourabh Verma and Sai Praneeth B failed to cross the first hurdle. While Jun Takemura of Japan spoilt Verma's campaign with a hard-fought 22-24, 21-19, 21-14 win, Sai Praneeth fight against eighth seed Yun Hu of Hong Kong ended with a disappointing 21-23, 18-21 loss.
It was also the end of road for Tanvi Lad as she went down 15-21, 10-21 to Sayaka Takahashi of Japan in the opening match of the women's singles draw. However, India's men's doubles pair of Manu Attri and Sumeeth Reddy entered the second round with a 21-17, 21-15 win over local duo of Hiroyuki Saeki and Ryota Taohata.
(With inputs from PTI)