In a disastrous opening round at the Korea Open, four of the six Indian shuttlers in the event, including Kidambi Srikanth, were knocked out in the 1st round on Wednesday. Sai Praneeth and Ajay Jayaram are the only Indians who have managed to survive the day and book their places in Round 2.
The day started with HS Prannoy losing to Wei Tzu Wang of Chinese Taipei despite winning the first game. Prannoy had gotten the better of his opponent when they faced each other at the Swiss Open earlier this year. It appeared he would repeat that when he overcame a 7-14 score in the first game to eventually win it 21-23. Prannoy had early leads in both the second and third games, but in both those matches, Wang fought back to win the games 21-17 and 21-15 respectively to oust the Indian from the event.
Next up was Sai Praneeth and the 24-year-old managed to defeat a higher-ranked opponent in Hsu Jen Hao. The Indian was trailing the Chinese Taipei shuttler 11-6 at one point in the opening game. But he turned the game around with some fantastic play and won eight consecutive points towards the end to win the game 21-13. His opponent fought back, though, in the second set and won it comfortably at 21-12 to tie the match at 1-1. Sai Praneeth raised his game in the deciding set and won it 21-15 to book a place in the next round. However, he will now face World No.8 Son Wan Ho of South Korea, and he will need to pull off a big upset to progress further.
Ajay Jayaram became the second Indian to progress to the second round of the tournament as he defeated Jeon Hyeok Jin 23-21, 21-18. Nothing much separated the two in the first game, and Jayaram even had to save a match point at 21-20. However, following that save, he won the next two points to win the game and take a 1-0 lead. Jayaram was trailing 12-16 in the second game, but he came back to win six points in a row to take a 2-point lead at 18-16. He, eventually, won the game 21-18 and will now face Huang Yuxiang of China in the next round, whom he had defeated at the Canada Open last year.
However, the big shock of the day for India came when Kidambi Srikanth lost to World No. 20 Wong Wing Ki Vincent 21-10, 22-24, 21-17. The Indian was nowhere in the game from the beginning - after briefly holding the lead until 2-1, he lost the plot to surrender the set at 10-21. He enacted a brief comeback in the second – despite being down at 15-19, he managed to save a match point and win the set.
However, Srikanth failed when it all mattered. At 17-17 in the third set, he choked as Vincent ran away with four straight points to oust the higher-ranked Indian.
Parupalli Kashyap lost to World No. 6 Tian Houwei in a three-setter 20-22, 21-10, 21-13. Despite saving a set point and winning the first set, Kashyap lost the match almost immediately. Houwei ran away with a 5-0 lead in the second, and eventually won the set 21-10. The third followed a similar script as Houwei took a 15-5 lead and won the set and the match comfortably.
Tanvi Lad was India's only representative in the women's singles draw, and the World No.73 put up a brave fight before surrendering to Anna Thea Madsen in three games. The first game was a closely fought affair, but after winning four points in a row, Tanvi was in with a chance at 18-19. However, Anna won the last two points to take a 1-0 lead in the match. Tanvi won the second game comfortably at 21-13 and raced to a 14-10 lead in the third game to raise hopes of an upset. However, Anna won seven points in a row to win the final game 21-18.
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