New Delhi: Kidambi Srikanth crashed out of the India Open after suffering a shock straight-game loss even as title-contenders Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu progressed to the quarterfinals with facile wins, here on Thursday.
Playing his first tournament of the new season after recovering from an abdominal muscle strain, world No. 3 Srikanth suffered a 19-21, 17-21 loss to Malaysian qualifier Iskandar Zulkarnain, who is giving his career the last shot after coming back from a long injury gap due to a back problem.
"I was at par with him in both the games but in the last few points, he played really well. I am feeling good and I want to continue playing. I need more match practice. He is tricky and he gets shuttles back from crazy positions. I am just happy to be back on court," Srikanth said after the men's singles match.
Top seed and defending champion Sindhu dumped Bulgaria's Linda Zetchiri 21-10 21-14 in the women's singles to set up a clash with eighth-seeded Spaniard Beatriz Corrales, who defeated Ruthvika Shivani Gadde 21-17 21-10.
"It was an easy match. There were many long rallies but I made many unforced errors. I have to try different strokes, get some on court in practice," Sindhu said.
Saina, who reached the finals at Indonesia Masters last week, mauled Denmark's Line H?jmark Kjaersfeldt 21-12 21-11 in another women's singles duel and will now face American fifth seed Beiwen Zhang next.
Singapore Open champion B Sai Praneeth defeated Hong Kong's Hu Yun 21-10 21-15 in the men's singles and will lock horns with third-seeded Taiwanese Chou Tien Chen next.
Commonwealth Games champion Parupalli Kashyap, who has been struggling to cross the opening round ever since recovering from his series of injuries, finally reached the men's singles quarterfinals of a major event after overcoming compatriot Shreyansh Jaiswal 21-19, 19-21, 21-12.
He will face China's Qian Bin, who overcame a fighting Kartikey Gulshan Kumar 21-17, 14-21, 21-13 in another pre-quarterfinal match.
Coming back after recovering from a shoulder injury, Sameer Verma also dished out an attacking game to see off former world No. 3 and 2014 World Championship bronze medallist Tommy Sugiarto of Indonesia 21-18, 19-21, 21-17 in an hour and 20 minutes in a men's singles encounter.
Sameer, who won the Syed Modi Grand Prix gold last year, will square off against Zulkarnain.
"I was confident that I will make a comeback after losing the second game which was close. I just want to be fit this year, performance will come I know if I am fit. Making the team for the Commonwealth Games is difficult but Asian Games is my goal," he said.
Unseeded mixed doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Ashwini Ponnappa also registered a stunning 21-16, 15-21, 23-21 win over third-seeded Malaysian combo of Tan Kian Meng and Lai Pei Jing.
The Indian duo blew four match points before recovering in time to reach their maiden quarterfinals of a major tournament.
"It was crazy. They have reached semis and quarters in super series tournaments and we didn't cross the pre-quarters so far. We have been playing long matches but couldn't win. I guess we were too desperate to win points in the end. It was a tricky game and we're happy to pull it off," Ashwini said.
Men's doubles pair of Satwik and Chirag Shetty, who reached the semifinals last week at Indonesia Masters, lost narrowly 21-13, 18-21, 20-22 to Chinese combo of Chai Biao and Wang Zekang.
Eighth-seeded Indian combo of Pranaav Jerry Chopra and N Sikki Reddy also entered the mixed doubles quarters after seeing off Malaysian-Indian pair of Yogendran Khrishnan and Prajakta Sawant 21-10, 21-19 in 32 minutes.
Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy too progressed to the last eight of men's doubles with a 21-11, 21-15 win over compatriots Tushar Sharma and Chandrabhusan Tripathi.
Olympic champion Carolina Marin also reached the women's singles quarters after defeating China's Gao Fangjie 13-21, 21-15, 21-11.
Earlier, unheralded Mugdha Agrey's campaign in the women's singles ended with a 12-21, 16-21 loss against Zhang, while Aakarshi Kashyap lost to third-seeded Thai Ratchanok Inthanon 11-21, 12-21.
Iceland International winners Rohan Kapoor and Kuhoo Garg also lost 10-21, 11-21 to fifth-seeded Danish combo of Mathias Christiansen and Christinna Pedersen.
Ashwini and Sikki later defeated compatriots Megha Morchana Bora and Sanghamitra Saikia 21-9, 21-2 while seventh-seeded Jakkampudi Meghana and Poorvisha S Ram beat Rutaparna Panda and Mithula UK 21-12, 21-18 to also reach the quarters of women's doubles event.
Men's doubles pair of Utkarsh Arora and Swarnaraj Bora, women's doubles pair of Aparna Balan and Sruthi KP, men's doubles combo of Francis Alwin and K Nandagopal and Shivam Sharma and Poorvisha S Ram crashed out after suffering losses.