On a dismal day so far at the ongoing Badminton Asia Championships 2022 in Manila, Phillippines, former World No. 1 Saina Nehwal became the reason for smiles as she brought in the first victory of the day and went on to sail into the second round.
Taking on Korean youngster Sim Yujin for the first time in her career, Nehwal made a good start and dominated for most parts of the game before Yujin offered resistance and fought back in the second game and won it to force the match into a decider.
Once into the decider, Nehwal didn’t have too much trouble maintaining a lead and looked sharp with her shot placements, winning the match, 21-15, 17-21, 21-13 in 54 minutes to book her place in the Round of 16.
Saina, who sat out the BAI Selection Trials so that she could save her body for the Badminton Asia Championships, made a good show today and is the first one from India to win on Day 2 of the continental championships.
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A jubilant Li Shi Feng rejoices as Lakshya Sen lowers his head, dejected, after the match (Source: YouTube screengrab)
Earlier in the day, World No. 9 shuttler Lakshya Sen suffered a shocking loss against China’s Li Shi Feng in a tense three-setter. With a lot of errors marking his game and a strong Li Shi Feng to fend off, Lakshya had trouble closing out the match despite having a healthy lead in the decider, losing in the first round itself, 12-21, 21-10, 21-19.
Joining Sen on the way out is also World Championships bronze medallist B. Sai Praneeth who lost to Indonesian veteran Jonatan Christie in a straightforward affair, 21-17, 21-13.
In the women’s singles, Aakarshi Kashyap also failed to make much impression against World Champion Akane Yamaguchi and lost, 21-15, 21-9 in just 26 minutes.
On the doubles front as well, the pair of Ashwini Bhat and Shikha Gautam failed to enter the second round, losing 21-19, 21-12 to Anna Cheong and Teoh Mei Xing of Malaysia.
The pair of Simran Singhi and Ritika Thaker also fumbled early and crashed out, 21-15, 21-11, losing to the seventh-seeded pair of Pearly Tan and Thinaah Muralitharan of Malaysia, again.
Meanwhile, PV Sindhu survived a scare against Taiwan’s veteran player, Pai Yu Po and had to dig deep in another three-setter clash before she could have her way, 18-21, 27-25, 21-9 in 1 hour 17 minutes.
Malvika Bansod also put up a good fight against Singapore’s Yeo Jia Min but unfortunately lost, 9-21, 21-17, 26-24 in another tough battle.
Finally, Kidambi Srikanth ensured that the day ended on a sweet note as he won his match in straight sets against Ng Tze Yong, 22-20, 21-15.