Birmingham, March 12 (IANS) The dismal form of Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth continued as both Indian shuttlers were knocked out in the first round of the 2020 All England Open championship.
Both shuttlers, who are racing against time for the Tokyo 2020 qualification, failed to hold their own in what were extremely tough first-round matches and were beaten in straight games on Wednesday.
Saina, the London Olympic bronze medallist, was completely outplayed by former world No.1 Akane Yamaguchi of Japan 11-21, 8-21 in just 28 minutes. It was her third first-round loss in five tournaments this year.
Srikanth, on the other hand, lost to third-seed and reigning Olympic champion Chen Long 15-21, 16-21 in a match that lasted 43 minutes. It was Srikanth’s fourth first-round exit in the five tournaments he has played this year.
Sai Praneeth was knocked out by world No. 36 Zhao Jun Peng as the Indian faced a crushing 12-21, 13-21 defeat in mere 33 minutes in his first-round contest.
Parupalli Kashyap, meanwhile, retired hurt after just a minute of play with the scoreline reading 0-3 against Indonesia’s Shesar Hiren Rhustavito.
In mixed doubles, Pranaav Jerry Chopra and N. Sikki Reddy bowed out 21-13, 11-21, 21-17 to Chinese top seeds Si Wei Zheng and Ya Qiong Huang.
The only saving grace for India were reigning world champion P.V. Sindhu and youngster Lakshya Sen who progressed to the second round.
Sindhu defeated USA’s Beiwen Zhang 21-14, 21-17 in 42 minutes. She will face Sung Ji-hyun of South Korea in the next round.
Sen advanced to the second round in his maiden appearance at the tournament after registering stunning come-from-behind win against higher-ranked Lee Cheuk Yiu of Hong Kong 17-21, 21-8, 21-17 in 59 minutes. He will face former world champion Viktor Axelsen of Denmark.
In the women’s double event, Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy advanced to the second round after their English opponents Jenny Moore and Victoria Williams retired hurt after just five minutes of play when the scores read 5-4. They will take on seventh seed Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi of Japan.