Ace Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal suffered a major blow as she crashed out of the Japan Open Super Series after going down against Rio Olympic gold medallist Carolina Marin in the second round of the women’s singles event on Thursday.
Having entered the match with 4-3 head-to-head record over Marin, Nehwal failed to better her record and slumped to a shocking 16-21, 13-21 defeat at the hands of the her Spanish opponent in a clash that lasted 43 minutes.
The first game was a closely-fought battle, but Marin built late momentum to eventually clinch it.
However, the second game was a more of a one-sided affair, with the Spaniard showing her dominance.
With Nehwal’s defeat, India’s challenge in women’s singles event also folded.
Earlier on Thursday, Rio-Olympic silver-medallist PV Sindhu knocked out of the tournament after going down in straight games against Nozomi Okuhara.
The fourth-seeded, who recently took avenge of her World Championship final defeat to Okuhara by beating her in the summit showdown of the Korea Open, once again lost to her Japanese opponent 18-21, 8-21 in a 47-minute prequarter-final clash of the women’s singles event.
In the men’s singles event, H.S. Prannoy and Kidambi Srikanth had stormed into the quarter-finals after comfortably winning their matches.
While Prannoy registered a 21-16, 23-21 win over Hsu Jen Hao of Chinese Taipei in one hour, eighth seed Srikanth took just 29 minutes to clinch a 21-12, 21-11 triumph over Hong Kong’s Hu Yun.
Prannoy will now take on second-seed Shi Yuqi of Hong Kong for a place in the semi-finals.
Srikanth, on the other hand, has set up a clash against third-seed Viktor Axelsen of Denmark.
Meanwhile, it was a curtains down for Sameer Verma as he slumped to a 21-10, 17-21, 15-21 defeat at the hands of second-seed Shi Yuqi of China in a thrilling second-round clash that lasted more than one hour.
In the mixed doubles event, the Indian duo of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Ashwini Ponnappa also crashed out of the tournament after suffering a 27-29, 21-16, 12-21 defeat against the Indonesia pair of Praveen Jordan and Debby Susanto.