Seoul: Top Indian shuttlers, including Saina Nehwal, started 2013 on a winning note, reaching the second round of the season-opening Korea Open Premier Super Series here on Wednesday.
Olympic bronze medallist Saina, seeded third, was little rusty to start with as she conceded the first game but got her act together in time to notch up a 17-21, 21-9, 21-19 win over Sapsiree Taerattanachai of Thailand in the women's singles opening round.
The world No. 3 will now clash with Singapore's Mingtian Fu. Fu beat Bulgaria's Petya Nedelcheva in another match at the SK Handball Stadium. Saina has a 3-0 record against the Singaporean.
World No. 14 Parupalli Kashyap disposed of Commonwealth silver medallist Rajiv Ouseph of England 21-19, 21-16 in his 40-minute men's singles opener.
The Commonwealth Games bronze medallist has a tough task at hand in the next round as he will meet seventh seed Yun Hu of Hong Kong. The duo has clashed only once so far, during the Badminton Asia Championships in 2010, and Yun beat Kashyap in three games then.
Rising shuttler P V Sindhu also reached the second round after avenging her defeat to Lindaweni Fanetri, against whom she lost in the finals of the Syed Modi Grand Prix gold in Lucknow less than a month ago. The world No. 19 from Hyderabad prevailed 22-20, 21-16 over the Indonesian in a 42-minute match.
The 17-year-old Sindhu will next take on Thailand's Porntip Buranaprasertsuk, who was the surprise winner after Olympic Champion Li Xuerui of China retired midway through the opening game of the first-round match.
With top seed Li out of the tournament, Saina is expected to meet seventh seed Tanjiao Jiang of China in the semi-finals now.
Earlier in the match, Sapsiree turned the heat on Saina as she caught the Indian at the nets and also matched her with smashes.
In the fist game, Saina led initially but Sapsiree clawed back and put the Indian on the back-foot. She then reeled off four straight points from 15-15 to lead 1-0.
But an unperturbed Saina stamped her authority in the second game and didn’t give any chance to her rival, registering six points on the trot to create a huge gulf which Sapsiree could never bridge.
In the decider, Saina once again moved ahead 3-0 and enjoyed a narrow lead till 16-13. The Thai girl reeled off six points to make it 19-20, before Saina closed the issue in her favour.