Saina Nehwal crashes out in first round of Singapore Open

Singapore: India`s ace shuttler Saina Nehwal`s poor form in the international arena continued as she crashed out of the USD 300,000 Singapore Super Series after losing to Eriko Hirose of Japan in a hard-fought three-game battle in her opening round women`s singles match here today.

However, other Indians in the fray -- B Sai Praneeth, H S Prannoy and P C Thulasi -- advanced to the second round of the tournament after registering contrasting victories on the opening day of the main draw.

World No. 8 Saina fought for an hour and two minutes before losing 21-16 15-21 11-21 to her lower ranked Japanese rival.

The London Olympic bronze medallist hardly had to break sweat in the opening game though. Dominating from the word go, the Hyderabad-based shuttler opened up a 5-2 lead and eventually extended it to 13-4, before wrapping it up 21-16 in style.

Saina, seeded seventh, started the second game also well as she took a 4-2 lead. But the Japanese quickly got her act together and from tied 4-4 position, she surged ahead to 10-4.

Thereafter, the Indian was always on the backfoot and was playing the catching-up game. Hirose finally stole the game 21-15 to take the match to the decider.

In the final game, the Japanese straightaway moved up 5-0 and continued to maintain a comfortable cushion to seal it off comfortably in the end.

In other women`s singles first round matches, Arundhati Pantawane fought hard before going down to another Japanese Shizuka Uchida 21-16 11-21 15-21 in just over an hour, while top seed and Olympic champion Li Xuerui of China made mincemeat of Tanvi Lad during her 21-6 21-11 win.

However, P C Thulasi notched up a 21-13 21-16 victory over New Zealand`s Anna Rankin to set up a second round clash with world number two Chinese Yihan Wang, who was the runners-up at the India Super Series last week.

Earlier in the day, world number 45 Praneeth, who had come close to beating world no. 9 Du Pengyu during the Indian Super Series last week, defeated Malaysia`s Mohamad Arif Abdul Latif 21-13 21-15 in half an hour in a men`s singles match. He will next take on Zi Liang Derek Wong of Singapore.

H S Prannoy, too, produced a good performance to prevail over Thailand`s Thammasin Sitthikom 21-17 14-21 21-11 in another men`s singles match at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. He will be up against fifth seed Pengyu tomorrow.

But Anand Pawar`s campaign was over as he lost 10-21 15-21 to Dionysius Hayom Rumbaka of Indonesia in a 33-minute contest.

Indian men`s doubles pair of Alwin Francis and Arun Vishnu put up a fine performance to outwit Chinese Taipei`s Jui Wei Liang and Kuan Hao Liao 21-15 16-21 22-20 in a 50-minute match.

However, it was curtains for mixed doubles pair of Ashwini Ponnappa and Tarun Kona as they went down 15-21 10-21 to local shuttlers Danny Bawa Chrisnanta and Yu Yan Vanessa Neo.

India`s mixed doubles pair of Jwala Gutta and Jishnu Sanyal faltered at the qualifiers, losing 14-21 18-21 to Hong Kong`s Tang Chun Man and Tsz Ka Chan yesterday.

Other top shuttlers -- P V Sindhu and Parupalli Kashyap -- will play later in the day.