Olympic badminton medallists P.V. Sindhu and Saina Nehwal, Kidambi Srikanth, H.S. Prannoy and the mixed doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Ashwini Ponappa advanced to the second round of Japan Open Superseries here on Wednesday.
Sindhu battled past Japanese Minatsu Mitani 12-21, 21-15, 21-17 in an hour and three minutes to set-up a second-round clash against reigning world champion Nozomi Okuhara of Japan on Thursday.
Olympic medallists Sindhu and Okuhara share four wins apiece in career meetings and have recently developed an enthralling rivalry. While Okuhara got the better of Sindhu at the World Championships final in August in Glasgow, the Hyderabadi hit back at the Korea Open in Seoul last weekend.
Another intriguing duel on Thursday will be between London Olympic bronze medallist Saina Nehwal and 2016 Olympic champion Carolina Marin of Spain. Saina leads the head-to-head record against the Spaniard by 4-3.
Saina on Wednesday moved past Thai Pornpawee Chochuwong 21-17, 21-9 in 40 minutes, while two-time world champion Marin breezed past Chinese Chen Xiaoxin 21-11, 21-11.
Eighth-seed Srikanth fought off China’s Tian Houwei 21-15, 12-21, 21-11 in an hour and four minutes. After this win, Srikanth, India’s best bet in the men’s singles category, will take on Chinese Hu Yun.
Prannoy got the better of Denmark’s Anders Antonsen 21-12, 21-14 in 37 minutes. The Indian will face Chinese Taipei’s Hsu Jen Hao for a place in the quarter-finals.
Sameer Verma also moved into the second round as he registered a 21-12 21-19 victory over Thailand’s Khosit Phetpradab. Sameer will meet Shi Yuqi of Japan on Thursday.
B. Sai Praneeth and Sourabh Verma, however, had to face defeats in the opening round. While Sourabh lost to five-time world champion Lin Dan of China 21-11, 15-21, 13-21, Praneeth went down 23-21, 17-21, 14-21 to South Korean Lee Dong Keun.
Meanwhile, young Satwik had a mixed day as he lost in the men’s doubles and advanced in the mixed doubles.
Satwik-Ashwini pair staved off Thailand’s Tinn Isriyanet and Pacharapun Chochuwong with a 21-17, 21-13 victory.
The unseeded Indians will face a huge task of defeating Indonesian fourth seeds Praveen Jordan and Debby Susanto on Thursday.
Satwik then partnered Chirag Shetty to lose to Indonesian third seed Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo 25-27, 15-21 in 38 minutes.
Ashwini too lost in her doubles category. She and N. Sikki Reddy ran into South Korean third seeds Chang Ye Na and Lee So Hee and the latter prevailed 21-17, 21-12 in 39 minutes.
The senior Indian pair of Manu Attri and B. Sumeeth Reddy also fell in the first round. The Indians lost to Chinese Taipei’s eighth seeds Lee Jhe-Huei and Lee Yang 18-21, 15-21 in 31 minutes.