World No. 1 Saina Nehwal started her campaign with a hard-fought win, while P V Sindhu too continued her rampaging run but it was curtains for top men’s shuttler Parupalli Kashyap at the USD 200,000 Badminton Asia Championship on Thursday.
Olympic bronze-medallist, Saina, who got a bye and a walkover in the first two rounds, was off the blocks with a 21-14 10-21 21-10 win over Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara in a women’s singles match that lasted for an hour and seven minutes.
The Indian will next take on fifth seed Tzu Ying Tai of Chinese Taipei.
Eighth seed Sindhu, a two-time bronze winner at the World Championships, set up a clash with top seed Li Xuerui of China in the quarterfinals after brushing aside Macau’s Teng Iok U 21-8 21-9 in another women’s singles match at the Wuhan Sports Center Gymnasium.
However, Commonwealth Games champion Kashyap, who had played a long match yesterday against Chinese Taipei’s Jen Hao Hsu, could not continue his winning run as his gallant fight ended with a 23-21 17-21 8-21 loss to seventh seed Zhengming Wang of China.
Among other Indians, the men’s doubles pair of Manu Attri and Sumeeth Reddy B sank 10-21 13-21 against third seeds Xiaolong Liu and Zihan Qiu of China.
The mixed doubles pair of Arun Vishnu and Aparna Balan also went down 13-21 5-21 to Kai Lu and Yaqiong Huang of China.
An All England finalist, Saina fought back from 3-5 and 4-6 in the first and third game to hand Okuhara her third defeat in as many encounters.
The girl from Hyderabad lagged initially but she soon opened up a 9-5 lead and even though Okuhara clawed back with a four-point burst, Saina was able to keep her nose ahead to grab the opening game.
Okuhara changed her tactics in the second game and surged ahead to 5-0 early on and then kept distancing herself from the Indian to roar back into the contest.
In the decider, Saina was back in her elements and after lagging 3-5, she drew parity to enter the break with a healthy 11-7 lead. Okuhara tried to break Saina’s game but the Indian stamped her authority, reeling off nine straight points to leave the Japanese stranded.