PV Sindhu, Ajay Jayaram reach second round of Japan Open

Tokyo: Rising Indian shuttler P V Sindhu entered the second round without much ado but it was Anand Pawar and K Srikanth who created a flutter at the Japan Open as they notched up stunning victories over their higher-ranked opponents in the men`s singles competition here.

Sindhu, seeded eighth, brushed aside local shuttler Yukino Nakai 21-12 21-13 in less than half an hour to set up a clash with another Japanese qualifier Akane Yamaguchi in the women`s singles second round on Thursday.

However, it was Pawar who first hogged the limelight when he scripted a 21-17 7-21 21-18 victory over world number 12 Indonesian Sony Dwi Kuncoro, also a 2004 Athens Olympics bronze medallist.

The 59-minute battle saw World No 37 Pawar riding on his clear winners to tackle Kuncoro, who had won the silver and bronze medals at the World Championship in 2007 and 2009 respectively.

Thailand Grand Prix Gold winner Srikanth, who had been in rollicking form at the Indian Badminton league, also continued his giant-killing act at the Japan Open when he eked out a hard-fought 22-20 22-24 21-18 over world number 22 Sho Sasaki of Japan in a hour and eight minute match.

Srikanth rode on his powerful smashes and also gave Sho a good fight at the nets to carve out the victory, which helped him set up a face-off with second seed and world number two Chen Long of China.

Among others, Ajay Jayaram prevailed over Chinese Taipei`s Tien Chen Chou 21-11 21-18 in another men`s singles match but Sourabh Verma and Sai Praneeth B failed to cross the first hurdle.

While Jun Takemura of Japan spoilt Sourabh`s campaign with a difficult 22-24 21-19 21-14 win, Sai Praneeth fight against eighth seed Yun Hu of Hong Kong ended with a disappointing 21-23 18-21 loss for the Indian.

It was also the end of road for Tanvi Lad as she went down 15-21 10-21 to Sayaka Takahashi of Japan in the opening match.

India`s men`s doubles pair of Manu Attri and Sumeeth Reddy B, however, entered the second round with a 21-17 21-15 win over local combo of Hiroyuki Saeki and Ryota Taohata in the opening round match.

It was an edge-of-the-seat encounter between Srikanth and Sho as the duo didn`t give an inch away right from the start. They went neck and neck from 3-3 to 20-20 before the Indian grabbed two points to earn the bragging rights.

In the second game, Sho dominated the proceedings early on with a 7-1 lead but Srikanth clawed his way back to make it 11-11 but the Japanese once again surged ahead 18-12.

Though Srikanth bounced back at 20-20 and held on till 22-22, Sho played out of his skin and managed to pocket the second game to give himself a chance in the decider.

In the decider, Srikanth raced to a 11-5 lead at the interval but Sho reduced the gap to 13-14 at one stage but the Indian was not ready to let it go after coming so far and managed to go the distance in the end.

Earlier, Pawar showed sparks of brilliance as he led 8-5 early on and then kept extending the gap to walk away with the first game.

However, in the second game, Kuncoro didn`t give any chance to the Indian and to level the tie.

In the decider, Pawar raised his game and earned a 12-6 lead and even though Kuncoro clawed his way back to 16-16, the Indian was successful in breaking off at 18-18 to make his entry into the second round.

World number 56 H S Prannoy also gave India enough reasons to cheer as he followed his compatriots Srikanth and Pawar to notch up a thrilling come-from-behind 15-21 21-17 24-22 victory over Hong Kong`s Wing Ki Wong, who is ranked 14th in the BWF list.

In the opening game, Prannoy came close to clawing back into the contest a couple of times but Wong managed to keep him at bay.

In the second game, however, Prannoy kept breathing down Wong`s neck and eventually caught up at 17-17 and didn`t let the game slip away after that to lock the battle 1-1.

The decider turned out to be a rollercoaster ride for both the shuttlers as after lagging for most part of the game, Prannoy levelled with Wong at 16-16 and then fought a tooth and nail battle to eventually have the last laugh.


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