Calcutta/ Guangzhou: Saina Nehwal started her campaign for an elusive medal at the World Championships on Wednesday with a crushing straight-game victory over lower-ranked Olga Golovanova of Russia in women’s singles competition of the prestigious event here.
London Olympics bronze medallist Saina, who had reached the quarter finals of the previous editions in 2009 and 2011, brushed aside Olga 21-5, 21-4 in just 23 minutes to set up a clash with 15th seed Thai Porntip Buranaprasertsuk in the pre-quarter finals.
Saina has a 5-0 record against Porntip but the Indian will have to be on guard as past records do not count and such matches could turn out to be tricky sometimes.
Saina was not tested in any way by Olga as she failed to put any pressure on the Indian. Although, Saina faltered a bit with her net strokes initially, she recovered quickly. Olga committed a series of unforced errors and even though she tried to engage Saina in rallies, the Russian never had the strokes to finish off the points.
Earlier in the day, PV Sindhu overcame a fighting Kaori Imabeppu of Japan to secure her place in the third round. Both Saina and Sindhu had got a bye in the first round.
Seeded 10th, Sindhu, who won the Malaysia Grand Prix in May this year, had to sweat it out for an hour and 11 minutes before she could prevail over the unseeded Imabeppu 21-19, 19-21, 21-17.
In men’s singles, Parupalli Kashyap kept his hopes alive after his opponent Petr Koukal from the Czech Republic retired hurt midway through the first game at 14-5. The game lasted for just 11 minutes.
The 13th -seeded Kashyap will next face Hu Yun of Hong Kong, who is ranked sixth in the world. Hu has beaten Kashyap twice in the past during the Asia Badminton Championship in 2010 and Korea Open early this year.
However, it was heartbreak for Ajay Jayaram as he suffered a straight-game loss to Pablo Abian in a 31-minute contest.
World No. 24 Ajay, who had stunned world No. 12 in the opening match, lost 9-21 17-21 against the Spaniard, who is ranked 88th.
There were more heartbreaks for India as men’s doubles pair of Tarun Kona and Arun Vishnu crashed out of the tournament after suffering a 15-21, 21-13, 17-21 defeat against the 15th-seeded Indonesian pair of Alvent Yulianto Chandra and Markis Kido.
Saina later said it was a good match.
"It was a good match. I was playing her for the first time but it went on pretty well," said Saina.
Sindhu is all set to face World No. 2 Wang Yihan of China in the third round but the 18-year-old from Hyderabad said she was hopeful of giving a good performance against her higher-ranked opponent.
"I am feeling good with the way I played today. It was a good match. I could have won the second game but few errors cost me," she said, adding she wasn't worried much about playing Yihan in the next round.
"I have already played her once in Sudirman Cup. I had taken the match to three games. So I will give my 100 per cent tomorrow and hopefully will do well," Sindhu added.