Top seed Saina Nehwal staved off a tough challenge from little-known Indonesian Hanna Ramadini in a three-game women's singles opening round match to advance to the pre-quarterfinals of the Macau Open Grand Prix Gold badminton tournament here today.
It turned out to be a good day for Indians as Saina, P Kashyap and B Sai Praneeth and men's doubles pair of Manu Attri and B Summeth Reddy made it to the pre-quarterfinals even as it was curtains for Hong Kong Super Series finalist Sameer Verma at the USD 120,000 event.
Former World No. 1 Saina saw off World No. 44 Ramadini 21-23 21-14 21-18 in the opening match that lasted for over an hour. She will next take on another Indonesian Dinar Dyah Ayustine next.
On a comeback trail, Commonwealth Games champion P Kashyap, who recovered from multiple injuries and then took a break after the Denmark Open to work on his fitness and game, defeated Chinese Taipei's Chun-Wei Chen 21-19 21-8. He will take on Chinese Taipei's Lin Yu Hsien in the next round.
Young Sameer, who had an exceptional campaign at Hong Kong last week, failed to break the defence of Muhammad Bayu Pangisthu of Indonesia and lost 18-21 13-21 to bow out of the tournament.
B Sai Praneeth disposed off China's Sun Feixiang 21-12 21-15 to set up a match against fifth seed Wong Wing Ki Vincent of Hong Kong.
Third seeded men's doubles pair of Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy saw off Hong Kong's Chan Alan Yun Lung and Li Kuen Hon 21-11 17-21 21-9. They will take on Singapore's Danny Bawa Chrisnanta and Hendra Wijaya.
Kashyap, who is back on the circuit after over a month, led 5-0 early on and then entered the lemon break at 11-7.
However, Chun-Wei led a strong challenge and turned the tables with an eight-point burst. The Indian then slowly and steadily made his way back to reach 16-19 before sealing the opening game with five straight points.
In the second game, Kashyap was very dominant as he broke off as early as 5-5 and never looked back as Chun-Wei crumbled under pressure.
Yesterday, H S Prannoy retired midway in the opening round match after suffering a back injury.
After making his maiden quarterfinals at India Open,
Sameer said: "I had prepared for his game but he played better today. He is a tricky player with quality strokes. I think I am confident enough to go for my strokes. I will look to continue the momentum tomorrow."
The older of the Verma brothers, Sourabh was engaged in a fierce battle with another Hong Kong shuttler when Sameer took the court and while he completed his victory with consummate ease, Sourabh blew a 19-16 lead in the decider, despite making a roaring comeback in the second game where he had led from start to finish.
In the end, the scoreline read 19-21 21-14 20-22 in favour of sixth seed Ng Ka Long Angus as Sourabh left crestfallen.
While answering about the difference between their games, Sameer made an observation, saying: "He has a calm head and has a good rally game while I am more attacking, perhaps, if I can have his patience and he can have my aggression, we both will do well."
Before the verma brothers could finish their engagements, another Indian was facing an exceptionally unsual day where nothing seemed to go his way.
Former champion Kidambi Srikanth had such an off day that he completely misjudged the length of the shuttle and struggled with his strokes and got buried in a heap of unforced errors. After 25 minutes, Rio Olympics bronze medallist Viktor Axelsen ended his agony with a 21-7 21-12 win.
"Nothing went my way today. I was misjudging the shuttle completely. He was playing too well and I just couldn't't compete," Srikanth said.
The Indian got some words of comfort from the strapping Dane.
"I have been there when you enter the court and find nothing is right. But I know how good a player, Srikanth is," said Axelsen, who had lost the finals to the Indian at 2015 edition here.
Among others, B Sai Praneeth failed to match the seventh seeded Chou Tien Chen of Chinese Taipei and was outclassed 14-21 16-21 in 36 minutes.
Shruti Mundada and Anoushka Parikh were no match for the third seeded Japanese pair of Naoko Fukuman and Kurumi Yonao, while Syed Modi champions Pranaav Jerry Chopra and N Sikki Reddy, seeded seventh, lost 18-21 19-21 to Russian duo of Evgenij Dremin and Evgenia Dimova.
Women's doubles pair of Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy suffered a 15-21 10-21 loss to fourth seeded Thai pair of Puttita Supajirakul and Sapsiree Taerattanachai.