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Saina, Sindhu & Sameer reach quarterfinals at India Open

New Delhi: Star shuttlers Saina Nehwal and P V Sindhu today notched up contrasting victories to set up a mouth-watering quarterfinal clash at the Yonex-Sunrise India Super Series badminton tournament at the Siri Fort Sports Complex here.

London Olympics bronze medallist Saina, who had struggled past Pornpawee Chochuwong in the finals of Malaysia Masters in January, brushed aside the 19-year-old Thai girl 21-14 21-12 in a lop-sided women’s singles contest today.

Rio Olympics silver medallist Sindhu then staved off the challenge of Japan’s Saena Kawakami 21-16 23-21 to set up a quarter-final clash against world no. 8 Saina tomorrow.

Earlier, Sameer Verma continued his rampaging run, notching up another stunning win over higher-ranked Hun Yu of Hong Kong in straight games to emerge as the lone Indian hope in men’s singles competition.

The Hong Kong Open finalist, Sameer reached the quarterfinals with a shocking 21-17 21-15 win in a 40-minute match. The 22-year-old from Dhar, who had clinched his maiden Grand Prix Gold event at Syed Modi Internationals in January, will face Denmark’s Anders Antonsen who advanced after German Marc Zwiebler conceded a walkover.

Saina and Sindhu have met just once in an international competition — at the 2014 Syed Modi International. Saina had won that match in straight games. They had played against each other in PBL early this year with Sindhu having an upper hand this year.

“Anything can happen tomorrow in this fast court where attacking is difficult, and also playing a rally game is also tough. It is very difficult to control the shuttles,” Saina said.

“She is a top 10 player and it will be very tough to control the shuttle. I will have to control my errors, I just hope I play better than today. But I have nothing to lose and it is lot easier to play without pressure. In PBL, it was 11-point and I was not even sure if I would be playing as I was coming out of injury.”

Olympic champion Carolina Marin of Spain also reached the quarterfinals at the expense of India’s national champion Rituparna Das, who went down 13-21 11-21 in a one-sided contest.

A more relaxed Saina was on display as she played within herself, analysing her mistakes, and often breaking into a smile. The Indian was not challenged much by World No. 34 Pornpawee as Saina always had the upper hand in the 33-minute match.

Instead of going for the kill, Saina waited for her opponent to make mistakes and eventually grabbed the opening game when Pornpawee hit long twice.

The second game started on a competitive note with some fast rallies but Saina soon stepped up and created a gap which her rival could not narrow down.

World No. 5 Sindhu, on the other hand, had to toil hard in the second game against an opponent who was agile and showed tremendous tenacity. However, in the end, it was a return that kissed the net and fall sharply at the forecourt which left the Japanese sprawled on the court.

Talking about her quarterfinal clash tomorrow, Sindhu said: “I know everybody would be looking forward to the match (against Saina) and hope the best player wins tomorrow.

—PTI