Hong Kong Open: Saina, Sameer, Praneeth ousted; Sindhu, Prannoy advance

Saina Nehwal crashes out of Hong Kong Open first round. (Source: PTI)

Saina Nehwal's poor form of run continued with an opening-round exit from Hong Kong Open as she fell down to China's Cai Yan Yan in straight games. Sameer Verma also bowed out of the competition in the first round. Meanwhile, PV Sindhu and HS Prannoy advanced to the second round in their respective categories.

Later, Sai Praneeth was also knocked out after losing to third seed Shi Yuqi, who beat him 11-21, 21-18, 21-12.

This was Saina's fifth first-round exit in the last six tournaments. Saina crashed out of Hong Kong Open with her second consecutive straight games defeat to Cai on Wednesday, with the previous clash at the China Open earlier this month.

Wrapping the match in 30 minutes, Cai had an aggressive start, dominating the opening game 21-13. The Indian shuttler began the second game more confidently, taking the lead for the first time but that did not last long with the Chinese opponent levelling the game at 4-4.

Saina, however, gave a tough fight before going down, winning five back-to-back points after the final mid-game break, overtaking Cai 19-18. World No. 22 Cai, however, claimed the final three points to seal the game 22-20.

The 29-year-old Saina has been going through a tough phase with regards to her fitness since claiming the Indonesia Masters in January. She made three consecutive first-round exits before reaching the quarterfinal of the French Open last month. That was followed by another opening-round exit in China Open, that took place prior to the ongoing Hong Kong Open.

Meanwhile, World no.16 Sameer fought for 54 minutes before going to Wang Tzu Wei of Chinese Taipei 11-21 21-13 8-21 to see his third successive opening-round exit. Wang was 7-4 up and then surged to 15-5 in a jiffy to eventually close the opening game.

In the second game, Wang led 3-0 early on but this time Sameer put up a fierce fight to open up a slender 11-10 lead, which he capitalised to roar back into the contest. However, Sameer was completely blown away by Wang in the decider. The Taiwanese shuttler zoomed to an 8-0 lead and then grabbed a 15-2 advantage, a gap which the Indian failed to bridge in the end.

Saina and Sameer are both scheduled to play Gwangju Korea Masters Super 300 tournament next week.

Sixth seed Sindhu, who had faltered in the opening round in a couple of recent tournaments, took 36 minutes to see off World No. 19 Kim Ga Eun of Korea 21-15 21-16 to progress to the second round. She moved to a 8-4 lead early on but Kim managed to turn the tables, holding a 11-10 advantage at the breather. The Indian then reeled off six points at 13-13 to march ahead and seal the opening game.

The second game was no different as Sindhu again broke off at 5-5, grabbing seven points on the trot to move to a massive 12-5 lead. The Indian kept moving ahead and eventually shut the door comfortably on her opponent.

With PTI inputs