Title-contender Saina Nehwal suffered a stunning straight-game defeat in the second round but P Kashyap and P V Sindhu advanced to the quarterfinals of the India Open Super Series here on Thursday.
World number five Saina was not in her elements as she suffered a 19-21, 10-21 defeat to Korean Youn Joo Bae, ranked 12th in the world, in a 39-minute women's singles match at the Siri Fort Complex here.
However, young prodigy Sindhu, ranked 27th in the world, stunned world number 11 and eighth seed Korean Ji Hyun Sung 21-17, 22-20 to cruise into the quarterfinal.
In men's singles, Kashyap kept his Olympic hopes alive by notching up a thrilling come-from-behind 15-21, 21-14, 22-20 win over Thailand's Boonsak Ponsana to reach the quarterfinals. The Commonwealth Games bronze medallist will have to win his quarterfinal battle against Chen Jin to qualify for the Olympics.
At the adjacent court, Ajay Jayaram played his heart out but could not avoid a 16-21, 21-15, 5-21 defeat to world number one Lee Chong Wei and crashed out of the tournament.
The Commonwealth Games gold medallist pair of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa, meanwhile, avenged their loss at the Asian Badminton Championship to the Indonesian pair of Vita Marissa and Nadya Melati, seeing them off 16-21, 21-15, 21-17 in a 50-minute women's doubles match.
Among other Indians, top ranked Indian pair of Rupesh Kumar and Sanave Thomas, who got a bye in the first round, also notched up a 21-18, 18-21, 21-19 victory over the Korean pair of Ki Jung Kim and Sa Rang Kim in the men's doubles competition.
It was heartbreak for the home supporters at the Siri Fort as Saina went down to her less heralded opponent.
The Korean traded blows equally with Saina all through the opening game and went into the break leading 11-9. Saina rubbed off the early deficit and took a 14-11 lead. But Youn Joo drew parity at 14-14 with the help of some sharp drops and half smashes.
The Korean was involved in long rallies and caught Saina at the fore court to move ahead. Saina also gave away a few points at the nets to allow Youn Joo to win the first game.
Long rallies, followed by heavy cross-court smashes and deft net work, helped the Korean to once again open up a 5-1 lead in the second game.
Saina tried to take control but seemed clueless as most of her strokes went into the net and were inaccurate. The Korean eventually sealed the issue quite comfortably.
"I don't know what happened, what went wrong. I didn't play well, I am not happy. I don't know what's wrong. Sorry," was what a visibly gloomy Saina could muster after the loss.
Youn Joo said she played freely and never thought of winning and it helped.
"Saina is an aggressive player. But all the pressure was on her and I was not thinking about winning. I have played against her many times and she beat me more. I am happy to win today," the Korean said.
"She made crucial mistakes in the middle of the second game and after that it was easy," she added.
In the men's singles, world number 30 Kashyap produced a scintillating performance to beat Boonsak. He was 2-7 behind in the first game but narrowed the gap to 14-15 but it was not enough as the Thai player raced away with the game in the end.
However, Kashyap didn't lose heart and kept pushing hard at his opponent, whom he had beaten twice in the past. His perseverance reaped dividends in the second game as he caught up with the Thai at 5-5 and then broke off at 9-9 to eventually roar back into the match.
The decider turned out to be a tooth and nail battle as both the shuttlers went neck and neck from 7-7 to 18-18, before Boonsak registered two quick points to earn the match point at 20-18.
But a lapse of concentration from Boonsak helped Kashyap save two match points and also earn a match point at 21-20 and once the Thai hit the shuttle out, the crowd burst into a vociferous celebration.
At the adjacent court, Jayaram made Lee Chong Wei run for each point and matched him with his strokes. Jayaram started with a 0-3 deficit but then slowly carved his way to a 6-5 lead before entering the break at 11-9.
The Indian played intelligently and dug deep into his resources and extended the lead to 15-10. But world number one Lee soon turned the tables as Jayaram succumbed to a series of unforced errors.
In the second game, Jayaram surged ahead to a 4-0 lead and moved to 11-7 at the break. He further extended the gap to 16-10 with the help of some sharp crosscourt and down the line smashes, before a deft net play took him to 18-10.
The Malaysian then reeled off four straight points but Jayaram earned the game point with a smash and then Lee hit wide once to help the Indian bounce back in the match.
In the decider, Jayaram paid the price for being erratic as Lee raced away to a 4-0 lead early and went 11-3 at the break. Things didn't change much after the break as Jayaram failed to retrieve Lee's shots and also struggled at the net, allowing Lee to canter to match point and eventually pocket the match.
Among other Indians, the challenge of qualifier Neha Pandit and mixed doubles pair of Ashwini Ponnappa and K Tarun came to an end.
In other matches, world number four Jin Chen beat Muhammad Hafiz Hashim 21-18, 21-15, second seed Peter Hoeg Gade of Denmark defeated Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk 21-19, 22-20, while seventh seed Taufik Hidayat saw off Zhengming Wang 16-21, 21-16, 21-11 in the men's singles.
In women's singles, top two seeds Shixian Wang and Li Xuerui cruised into the quarterfinals, while two-time All England Champion Tine Baun crashed out after losing to Xiao Jia Chen.