New Delhi: India suffered a heartbreak as ace shuttler Saina Nehwal crashed out of the Indian Open Super Series with a straight-game defeat against Japanese Ai Goto in the first round of the women's singles on Wednesday.
The 21-year-old world number four committed a lot of unforced error and failed to read the game of the 24th ranked Japanese, against whom she had a 3-0 record coming into the tournament, but succumbed to a 17-21, 19-21 loss in a 34-minute
encounter this time around.
"I am very disappointed at the loss. I didn't play well. I was confused what strokes I should play. She was moving fast on the court and was playing a lot of drops and half smashes. She has improved a lot since the last time I played her," Saina told reporter after the match.
"I was not confident of my strokes. She was better prepared. Everything happened so quickly, I don't know what to say," said Saina, disappointedly.
In the first game, Saina was lagging behind Goto right from the start and although she did well to catch her up at 10-10, the Japanese opened up a three-point lead at 13-10 and held her fort.
With her back to the wall, the Hyderabadi opened up a 3-0 lead in the second game but Goto drew parity at 8-all and moved neck and neck from there on to 16-17. At 19-16, Saina blew a three-point lead as Goto wrapped up the match comfortably.
"I was focused to beat Saina. I knew she would be under pressure as She is playing at her home country," said Goto. Though Saina's heart-breaking loss left her fans
disappointed, two young shuttlers, Sourabh Verma and RMV Gurusaidutt, earlier gave India something to cheer about as they notched up the biggest upsets of the tournament on the second day.
A hithero unknown shuttler, Sourabh became the cynosure of all eyes when he sent Athens Olympics bronze medallist Sony Dwi Kuncoro of Indonesia packing 21-18, 21-19 in the first round.
Gurusaidutt eked out a hard-fought 22-20, 18-21, 21-19 victory over fourth seed Boonsak Ponsana to cause yet another upset on the second day at the Siri Fort Sport Complex here. Top men's shuttler P Kashyap, however, didn't have to
break a sweat as he cantered to a 21-7, 21-15 win over Slovekian Michal Matejka to set up a clash with world number two Taufik Hidayat, who notched up a comfortable 21-13, 21-5 win over Anup Sridhar of Bangalore.
The 20-year-old Sourabh, who beat the former world number three and currently ranked 37 Indonesian in a hard-fought 41-minute match, rated this as the biggest win of his career.
"It is my biggest win. I didn’t get intimidated by his stature. I just wanted to give my best and see how things pan out and I am glad, I could pull off the victory," said Sourabh, who is playing the first Super Series of his career.
He will take on the winner of seventh seed Kenichi Tago of Japan and French Brice Leverdez in the second round. Sourabh's win gains significance as Sony was a silver and bronze medallist in the World Championship in Kuala Lumpur in 2007 and Hyderabad in 2009, beside having the Indonesian, Japan Super Series and China Masters title to his name.
Saurabh, who belongs to Madhya Pradesh, have been training in the Gopichand Academy for the past two years and is among the talented group of young shuttlers.
"I have been training At SAG (special Area Games) but the training facilities were not that great so after I moved into Gopichand academy for the Commonwealth Games camp, I decided to stay there ever since," said Sourabh, who reached the
semifinals of the National Championship in Rohtak.
Sourabh won the All India Senior Ranking tournament held at Atul, Gujarat in February. This was his first major ranking title on the senior circuit. He also reached the quarterfinals of the Scottish Open in 2009.
The day also saw Gurusaidutt put behind his series of close match loses and rise to the occasion with a thrilling victory over world number five.
"My hard work paid off finally. I have been losing so many close matches so it is nice. I have been waiting for this kind of a win as it boosts the confidence to another level. It is going to be much more tougher from here on and I know I have to put more and more hard work," Gurusaidutt said.
Among other Indians, Ajay Jayaram, Anand pawar, Arvind Bhat put up a fight in the men's singles before crashing out of the USD 200,000 event, the first Super Series in India.
In women's singles, qualifiers PV Sindhu and Sayali Gokhale fought gallantly but couldn't cross the first hurdle, while Aditi Mutatkar and Truti Murgunde were beaten
comprehensively by fourth seed Pui Yin Yip of Hong Kong and Indonesian Aprilla Yuswandari.
Ajay Jayaram too produced a gallant performance against world number one Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia before going down 21-19, 21-18 in a 37-minute match.
"It was my first match and I was taking things a little lightly, playing different strokes but I didn’t except him to play so well. I was trying few things, taking a feel of the stadium. A few line calls went against me but in the end it was a fair and square match," Lee said.
Up against Sho Sasaki of Japan, Anand Pawar fought hard before going down 19-21, 21-17, 21-12 in another men's singles match. Young qualifiers Sai Praneeth B lost 19-21, 12-21 to Wing Ki Wong, while HS Prannoy suffered a 14-21, 12-21 loss to Wan Ho Shon of Korea in the men's singles.
Among other Indians, Akshay Dewalkar and Pradnya Gadre beat Japanese pair of Noriyasu Hirata and Miyuki Maeda 21-17, 21-17 in the mixed doubles category but their collegues were not so lucky as they crashed out with contrasting defeats.
Ye Na Jang and Min Seo Kim of Korea put paid to Meenakshi Nair and Mohita Sahdev's hopes beating them 21-10, 21-13, while Pranav Chopra and Tarun Kona lost 17-21, 16-21 to Indonesian pair of Yohanes Rendy Sugiarto and Afiat Yuris Wirawan in men's doubles.
Eighth seeds Shintaro Ikeda and Reiko Shiota of Japan were too hot to handle for Arun Vishnu and Aparna Balan as the Indian pair's fight ended with a 18-21, 21-17, 14-21 defeat in another mixed doubles category.
PC Thulasi and Siki Reddy also found the going tough and lost 7-21, 11-21 to Eei Hui Chin and Pei Tty Wong of Malaysia. Among the international stars, third seed Peter Hoeg Gade survived a scare before winning 13-21, 22-20, 21-8 against Kazushi Yamada, while sixth seed Sung Hwan Park beat Arvind Bhat 21-14, 21-16. Seventh seed Kenichi Tago also notched up a 25-23, 21-13 win over Brice Leverdez to reach the next round.
First Published: Wednesday, April 27, 2011, 23:51