New Delhi, Mar 27:
Commonwealth Games bronze medallists Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy notched up a stunning straight-game win over world no 18 Li Wenmei and Zheng Yu to make it to the second round of women’s doubles competition at USD 350,000 India Open here Tuesday.
The world no 23 Indian pair, who had finished runners-up at the Syed Modi International World Tour Super 300 tournament, stunned Li and Zheng 22-20 21-19 in the opening round.
“We got really good training last week. We had stretched top players but couldn’t convert it to a win, so it gives us a lot of confidence to be able to do that,” Ashwini said after the match.
Men’s doubles duo of Arjun MR and Shlok Ramachandran, however, suffered a 16-21, 18-21 loss to Chinese pair of Huang Kaixiang and Wang Zekang to crash out of the World Tour Super 500 tournament.
In the qualifying round, Indian shuttlers expectedly dominated with eight singles and 10 doubles pairs from the country securing berths in the main draw.
As many as 13 shuttlers were from India out of 16 in the men’s singles qualifiers, where Rahul Yadav Chittaboina, Siddharath Thakur, Kartik Jindal and Kartikey Gulshan Kumar made it to the main draw.
World No. 257 Jindal hardly broke a sweat in dismissing the 365th Pavel Kotsarenko in the first round. He was then made to work hard by a spirited Sarath Dunna, who had knocked out Yehezkiel Fritz Mainaky, 21-9, 17-21, 21-16 in his opening round.
Dunna showed the same resolve against Jindal before going down 12-21, 23-21, 19-21 in a tight contest that lasted 53 minutes.
Chittaboina recorded a 21-14, 21-15 victory over Anant Shivam Jindal to qualify for main draw. Thakur was equally impressive in his 21-6, 21-13 win over Gurpartap Singh Dhaliwal and was joined by Kartikey Gulshan Kumar.
In women’s singles, Ritika Thaker, Prashi Joshi, Riya Mookerjee, and Vaidehi Choudhari progressed out of the eight qualifiers, which featured six Indians.
While Thaker will face eighth seed Mia Blichfeldt, Joshi and Choudhari have tough opponents in the form of third seed He Bingjiao and seventh seed Han Yue respectively.
Pranaav Jerry Chopra, one-half of India’s mixed doubles pair of N Sikki Reddy, had an easy outing alongside Shivam Sharma in the men’s doubles qualifying round where all eight pairs were Indians.
The duo needed just 19 minutes to prevail over Vikas Chauhan and Sandeep Choudhary 21-10, 21-5.
In women’s doubles, Megha Morchana Bora and Manali Sinha staved off a stiff resistance from Anamika Kashyap and Sanghamitra Saikia to register a 24-22, 21-13 win.
In mixed doubles, Aparna Balan and Mohamed Muanis went down to the experienced Hong Kong pair of Tang Chun Man and NG Tsz Yau.
On Wednesday, 2017 champion PV Sindhu will start her campaign against compatriot Mugdha Agrey, while 2015 winner Kidambi Srikanth meets a tricky rival in Wong Wing Ki Vincent in the opening round and fifth seed Sameer Verma has Rasmus Gemke of Denmark as his first round opponent.