A much-anticipated second round meeting of India's top two women shuttlers, world No 1 Saina Nehwal and P V Sindhu, failed to materiliaze as the latter came a cropper in her opening match at the Japan Open Super Series badminton tournament, in Tokyo, on Wednesday.
While World No 1 Saina had things going her way in her first round match, beating Thailand upstart Busanan Ongbumrung 21-14, 22-20, twice World Championships silver medallist, Sindhu failed to break the defences of Minatsu Mitani and lost 13-21, 21-17, 11-21.
Meanwhile, Parupalli Kashyap progressed to the second round, but Ajay Jayaram, and the women's doubles pair of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa failed to get past the opening hurdle.
Commonwealth Games champion Kashyap, who turned 29 on Tuesday, advanced after Japan’s Takuma Ueda retired midway, leading 3-2 in the opening game, at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium.
Dutch Open winner Ajay also faltered in the first round, going down 10-21, 10-21 to Denmark’s seventh seed Viktor Axelsen in another men's singles match.
Glasgow Commonwealth Games silver medallists, Jwala-Ashwini played out of their skin before losing 20-22, 21-18, 13-21 to eighth seeds Zhao Yunlei and Zhong Qianxin of China in 54 minutes.
India’s other women's doubles pair of Pradnya Gadre and N Sikki Reddy also made an early exit, losing 6-21, 17-21 to top seeds Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi of Japan.
On Tuesday, men's singles player Anand Pawar and the mixed doubles pair of Kona Tarun and N Sikki Reddy lost in the qualifiers.
Pawar suffered a 20-22, 18-21 defeat to Kanta Tsuneyama of Japan, while local pair of Yuta Watanabe and Arisa Higashino thrashed the Tarun-Sikki combination 21-9, 13-21, 21-19.
The Indian was put on the back foot early on in the opening game as Kanta led 13-6. The Indian did well to restore parity at 18-18 but the Japanese held firm to earn the bragging rights.
In the second game, Pawar surged to a 7-3 lead but Kanta drew level soon before the Indian regained the lead 15-12. However, a four-point burst saw Kanta wrest control of the match and eventually shut the door on Pawar.
Image: Saina Nehwal
Photograph: Getty Images