It was Women’s day indeed for the Indian contingent at the ongoing All England Open, as P.V Sindhu and Saina Nehwal both advanced to the second round. HS Prannoy produced a gutsy comeback to remain the only other Indian in the fray as the others including Kidambi Srikanth bowed out across events.
Sindhu was at her dominant best with a comfortable 21-10, 21-11 in just 29 minutes. The Olympic silver medalist would be looking to make amends for the first-round exit that she suffered in this tournament last year, and has certainly started on the right note.
Saina, on the other hand, made an early statement in the tournament as she ousted defending champion Nozomi Okuhara of Japan in the first round. The 2015 runner up has been getting back to her best since returning from a career-threatening knee injury. The 26-year-old showed signs of her resurgence as she dispatched her opponent 21-15, 21-14 to enter the second round.
Both Saina and Sindhu will be vying to become only the third Indian to lift the prestigious tournament, after Prakash Padukone and Pullela Gopichand respectively.
Speaking to CNN News 18, Gopichand, the man behind India’s rapid ascent, was quoted as saying, “I believe the competition is going to be tough in All England Open, people have had time to prepare, many players from different countries would have had a good time to prepare and same is the case with Indian players and I believe we have a good contingent to perform well.”
However, things were not all rosy for India as the majority of the Indian male contingent, with the exception of HS Prannoy, were knocked out in the first round of the tournament itself. While Ajay Jayaram went down to Huang Yuxiang. of China 21-19, 21-13 in two straight games, Kidambi Srikanth exited the tournament following a 21-19, 19-21, 21-12 loss to Zhao Junpeng of China.
Prannoy on the other hand, put on a resilient display to come from a game down and register a hard-fought 17-21, 22-20, 21-19 victory over China’s Qiao Bin even overturning a 12-18 deficit in the third game, on his way to the second round.
While we’ll have to wait and see how far Prannoy goes in the remainder of the tournament, the majority of Indian hopes, once again, largely lie on the shoulders of Saina and Sindhu, who could potentially meet in the semifinal if they continue their runs.