Saina, Sindhu post easy wins

POWERFUL: Shuttler Saina Nehwal essays a smash during her match against Indonesia's Fitriani Fitriani in Jakarta on Saturday. PTI

Saina Nehwal and P V Sindhu both posted comfortable victories over their Indonesian opponents to enter the quarterfinals in the women’s singles of the Asian Games badminton on Saturday.

Saina looked in good touch against Fitriani Fitriani, winning 21-6, 21-14 in the pre-quarterfinal encounter in front of packed stands at the GBK badminton stadium. 

The third-seeded Sindhu was up against a tricky rival in Gregoria Tunjung but played with control to post a 21-12, 21-15 win, silencing the home fans.

With the men’s singles players Kidambi Srikanth and H S Prannoy exiting in the first round and the doubles players too falling short, the focus is on Sindhu and Saina to deliver a medal here. Sindhu, especially, was under the scanner after just about managing to come through the first-round match on Wednesday.

Sindhu had beaten Gregoria — ranked 22 in the world — in all their previous four meetings but in front of the latter’s home crowd, and in the Asian Games, the pressure was different. Gregoria a player who relies on soft strokes and deception to earn her points, relished the atmosphere but the Indian carried far too many guns for her. 

Sindhu took an early lead and though Gregoria fought back, the Indian was always in front, wrapping up both the games without any fuss. She did make some unforced errors to grant a few free points to the Indonesian but it was a far better show than the one she produced in the opening round.

Sindhu said patience was the key for her, especially in the first game when the Indonesian staged a mini-comeback. “I was leading 7-0 and gave away several points in a row but I wasn’t nervous. I kept going as I knew each point was important,” she said.

India’s men’s doubles pairs both bowed out. Satwik Sairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty were beaten by Choi Soigyui and Kang Minhyuk of South Korea 21-17, 19-21, 21-17 while Li Junhui and Liu Yuchen of China defeated Manu Attri and Sumeeth Reddy 21-13, 17-21, 25-23.

Satwik and Chirag had staged a superb rally in the second game but after level-pegging for the most part in the third game, they lapsed into errors to bow out.

In women’s doubles, Ashwini Ponnappa and Sikki Reddy, who had become the first Indian women’s pair to enter the Asiad quarterfinals since 1986, bowed out to China’s Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan, losing 11-21, 22-24.

 

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Saina, Sindhu post easy wins

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