Saina Nehwal produced a fine performance to kick-off her BWF World Championships campaign with a straight game win over Hong Kong’s Cheung Ngan Yi here on Tuesday.
The former world No.1 shuttler took 38 minutes to dispatch Ngan Yi 21-19, 21-9 in the opening round. The 32-year-old Indian, who has a silver and bronze from the Worlds, then got a bye to reach the pre-quarter finals as her second-round opponent, Nozomi Okuhara, had pulled out of the tournament due to an injury.
The women’s doubles pair of Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand also made a winning start. The Indian duo easily inflicted a 21-11, 21-13 defeat on the Malaysians Yeen Yuan Low and Valeree Siow.
Young women’s pairing of Ashwini Bhat K and Shikha Gautam also progressed to the second round after beating the Italian duo of Martina Corsini and Judith Mair 21-8, 21-14 in 30 minutes.
Saina had showed signed of regaining her old form during her stunning win over He Bingjiao of China en route her first quarter final appearance in 16 months at Singapore Open in July.
She dished out another gritty show on Tuesday as she recovered from 4-7 to turn the tables at 12-11 just after the interval.
Fighting for each point, Saina kept herself in contention as she maintained a narrow one-point lead over Ngan Yi, before moving ahead with the two crucial points at 19-19 to pocket the opening game.
Saina then switched gears in the second game even as Ngan Yi struggled.
Soon, the Indian moved to a 11-6 advantage at the interval and marched ahead to eventually seal the contest without much fuss.
However, it was the end of the road for the mixed doubles pair of Venkat Gaurav Prasad and Juhi Dewangan as they went down 10-21, 21-23 to Gregory Mairs and Jenny Moore of England. Men’s doubles pair of Krishna Prasad Garaga and Vishnuvardhan Goud Panjala also crashed out of the tournament, losing 14-21 18-21 to France’s Fabien Delrue and William Villeger.
Mixed doubles duo of Tanisha Crasto and Ishaan Bhatnagar also didn’t have a good outing, losing 14-21, 17-21 to 14th Supak Jomkoh and Supissara Paewsampran of Thailand.
On Monday, Lakshya Sen advanced to the second round defeating Hans-Kristian Vittinghus of Denmark 21-12, 21- 11.
H S Prannoy defeated Luka Wraber of Austria 21-12, 21-11 and 2021 silver medallist Kidambi Srikanth beat Ireland’s Nhat Nguyen 22-20, 21-19 to set up a second-round clash with China’s Zhao Jun Peng.