Newly-crowned India Open champions Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth continued their rampaging international run, notching contrasting victories to enter the second round of the US $500,000 Malaysia Open Super Series Premier, in Kuala Lumpur, on Wednesday.
Set to be crowned the world No 1 tomorrow, Saina hardly broke a sweat while dumping Maria Febe Kusumastuti of Indonesia 21-13, 21-16 in the women's singles after world No 4 Srikanth beat England's Rajiv Ouseph 10-21, 21-15, 22-24 in the men's singles.
London Olympics bronze medallist Saina will take on Chinese qualifier Yao Xue next while Srikanth will meet world No 16 Tian Houwei of China.
Interestingly, Saina and Srikanth won the China Open Super Series last year before winning the India Super Series last Sunday.
Saina produced a dominating show in the first game, not giving any chance to the Indonesian after opening a huge 12-4 lead. At 19-13, she grabbed two straight points to seal the first game.
In the second, Maria managed a 4-2 lead but that evaporated soon as Saina took control, leading 10-6. The Indonesian keep the scores level at 10-10 till 15-15, before the Hyderabad girl raced ahead again.
Srikanth had beaten Rajiv at last year’s World Championships and kept his record intact as he grabbed control of Wednesday’s match early on before breaking away at 7-7 in the first game.
He blasted 10 straight points to create a huge gulf which Rajiv could never breach as the Indian won the first game.
Srikanth had the opportunity of sealing the match in the second game itself but squandered a 6-0 early lead as Rajiv rode on a six-point burst at 13-12 to level the match score and roar back into the contest.
The decider was a rollercoaster as Srikanth brought his never-say-die attitude to the fore, fighting back from 3-7 and 11-8 down to eventually beat the English shuttler.
Srikanth is on a roll since winning the China Open Super Series Premier last November. He reached the semi-finals of the Hong Kong Open, World Super Series Finals, made it to the final of the Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold before winning the Swiss Open and India Super Series last month.
Saina too is in red hot form, having won the Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold in January, reaching the All England final, before clinching the India Open in Delhi.
Meanwhile, Commonwealth Games champion Parupalli Kashyap and world No. 17 H S Prannoy also advanced to the second round of the men's singles.
World No. 13 Kashyap got the better of South Korea’s Lee Dong Keun 21-15, 11-21, 21-14 in 71 minutes, while Prannoy defeated Ireland's Scott Evans 22-20 21-18 in 40 minutes.
Prannoy will take on two-time Olympic gold medallist and five-time World champion Lin Dan.
Kashyap will meet the winner of the match between Chen Long and Takuma Ueda.
The star Indian women's doubles combo of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa needed 48 minutes to prevail over Indonesians Devi Tika Permatasari and Keshya Nurvita Hanadia 21-14, 18-21, 21-16.
However, the Indian men's doubles pair of Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy went down 11-21, 17-21 to Indonesia’s Andrei Adistia and Hendra Aprida Gunawan.
Image: Kidambi Srikanth
Photograph: Stanley Chou/Getty Images