Saina goes down to Okuhara; Momota blanks Srikanth

Saina goes down to Okuhara; Momota blanks Srikanth

Ace Indian shuttlers, Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth, had a disappointing start to their campaign at the BWF Superseries Finals as they suffered straight-game defeats on the opening day of the event here on Wednesday.

Saina seemed to struggle with her ankle injury as she went down 14-21, 6-21 against Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara in a women’s singles match which lasted 35 minutes.

The World Championship silver medallist will play World number one Carolina Marin in another Group A match on Thursday.

World number nine Kidambi Srikanth, who had reached the finals of Indonesia Masters Grand Prix Gold last week, suffered a 13-21, 13-21 loss against Japan’s Kento Momota in a men’s singles Group B match at the Hamdan Sports Complex.

The 22-year-old Indian will next face Viktor Axelsen of Denmark in his next tie. Saina, who came into the match with a 4-0 head-to-head record against Okuhara, with two of the wins coming this year at Asian Championship and China Open, could not play her best game as her ankle injury restricted her on-court movement.

Okuhara zoomed to a 5-1 lead early on but Saina soon engaged her rival on long rallies using her tosses and drops and also judged the shuttle well in this conditions to claw back at 8-8.

The Indian grabbed the lead when Okuhara hit wide but Okuhara caught the Indian at the forecourt and then with a smash moved into the interval with a slender 11-10 lead.

Saina stumbled on a few unforced errors after the break which allowed Okuhara to lead 17-12. Saina grabbed two points before a net error and cross court drop at the left took the Japanese to the game point. She pocketed the game when Saina hit long again.

The change of side didn’t change Saina’s fortune as Okuhara zoomed to a 11-3 lead in a jiffy.

Okuhara continued her good work after the breather even as Saina was left visibly frustrated with her game as she hit wide and long and found the net to allow the Japanese grab 10 of the next 14 points to shut the door on the Indian.

In the men’s singles match, Srikanth looked a pale shadow of himself, while Momota produced a controlled aggressive game and fortified his defence to dominate the match completely.

A tiny 3-1 lead initially was all Srikanth could manage as Momota zoomed to a 7-3 before entering the break at 11-8. The Japanese jumped to a 16-8 lead soon and continued to amass points without much trouble.

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