India started their New Zealand Open campaign on a sour note with Saina Nehwal getting eliminated in the first round itself while male shuttlers Sai Praneeth and HS Prannoy advanced. Lakshya Sen was also shown the door but not before he stretched Wang Tzu Wei to a thrilling three gamer match.
Approaching the Super 300 tournament as the second seed, Saina Nehwal was expected to have an easy sail through against China’s Wang Zhiyi. However, the Indian ace was in for a huge upset as the 19-year-old stunned the veteran in the very first game, winning it 21-16. Though Nehwal used all her experience to level the match 1-1 by winning the second game 23-21, a determined Wang didn’t let her momentum fall and went to win the decider by an appalling 21-4 scoreline.
Sai Praneeth was up against compatriot Subhankar Dey which, if not difficult, was expected to be a tricky matchup. Praneeth established his dominance in the first game with a 21-17 win before Dey pulled back one with a close 21-19 leveller. The decider was expected to be a strenuous one but Dey was out of fuel by then as Praneeth clinched it 21-15. Praneeth would be facing seventh-seeded Lin Dan.
HS Prannoy, on the other hand, had it quite easy against Singapore’s Loh Kean Yew as he won it 21-15, 21-14 in straight games. His next clash, however, isn’t expected to be so straightforward as he would be up against second-seeded Tommy Sugiarto in the second round. Anubha Prabhudesai, who was up against China’s Li Xuerui, had an easy exit with 9-21, 10-21.
In another match, the women’s pair of Ashwini Ponnappa and N. Sikki Reddy bowed out against China’s Liu Xuanxuan and Xia Yuting in a hard-fought match that resulted in a 14-21, 23-21, 14-21 loss for the Indian duo. The men’s pair of Manu Attri and B. Sumeeth Reddy, however, was up against New Zealand’s Joshua Feng and Jack Jiang and had an easy 21-7, 21-10 win.
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