Saina, Srikanth make first-round exits from Malaysia Open

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Ace Indian shuttlers Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth’s woeful run continued as they suffered first-round exits from the season-opening Malaysia Open here on Tuesday.

London Olympics medallist Saina, who endured a tough 2022 battling multiple injuries and a lack of form, went down 12-21 21-17 12-21 to Han Yue of China in the USD 1,250,000 Super 1000 tournament.

Gayatri Gopichand and Treesa Jolly, in women’s doubles, were the only Indian badminton players to win on the first day of the tournament.

The Indian duo, who won a bronze medal at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, beat Hong Kong’s Yeung Nga Ting and Yeung Pui Lam 21-14 21-19 to enter the round of 16.

Having lost the first game, Saina, who has slipped to world number 30, fought back to force a decider in the women’s singles first round match.

However, Saina, a two-time Commonwealth Games champion, fell behind as Han built a sizable lead to win the match comfortably.

Former world number one Srikanth’s surrender was tamer. The world championship silver medallist, who has also been struggling for form recently, was stunned by the unseeded Kenta Nishimoto of Japan 19-21 14-21 in 42 minutes.

Srikanth, ranked 13th, fought hard in the opening game, but Nishimoto managed to take the lead.

The two shuttlers were tied at 12-12 in the second game but the Japnese ran away with the contest from there.

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It was also curtains for Akarshi Kashyap who was outplayed 10-21 8-21 by Wen Chi Hsu of Chinese Taipei in her women’s singles opener.

The men’s doubles pair of Krishna Garaga and Vishnuvardhan Panjala lost their match to South Korea’s Kang Min Hyuk and Seo Seung Jae 21-10 21-18 in the first round.

Two-time Olympic medallist PV Sindhu will take on Carolina Marin in her first match on Wednesday while Lakshya Sen and HS Prannoy will fight it out for a place in the round of 16.

In men’s doubles, world championships bronze medallists Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy will play against South Korea’s Choi Sol Gyu and Kim Won Ho.


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