Saina Nehwal makes winning return at Thailand Open badminton

Indian badminton ace Saina Nehwal dominated from start to end to beat her Thailand Open first round opponent Kisona Selvaduray in straight games.

3 min By Utathya Nag
Saina Nehwal fell in the Round of 16 at the Thailand Open. Photo: Badmintonphoto - Courtesy of BWF.
(Picture by Badmintonphoto)

India’s Saina Nehwal outmatched her Malaysian opponent Kisona Selvaduray by a 21-15, 21-15 margin in her first round match at the Yonex Thailand Open on Wednesday.

After the false positive COVID-19 result on Tuesday, all eyes were on Saina Nehwal. The 2012 London Olympics bronze medallist, though, showed no signs that the entire ordeal had affected her in any way and put on a stellar display.

“Yesterday I was given a positive COVID-19 result after my PCR test, but I already told them I had had COVID-19 last November, so I have antibodies. I tried to explain this to the doctor and after my blood tests and chest x-rays, the doctor said I was ok and do not have COVID-19," Saina Nehwal said after the match.

“I’m thankful to the doctors, the BWF and everyone who made the decision for me to play. It was a tiring day, but I’m happy I could come back and play my match," she added.

Saina Nehwal was in control throughout the match and led 11-5 in each of the two mid-game breaks.

This was the Indian ace’s first match in over 10 months. She last played in a competitive match at the All England Open back in March 2020.

With PV Sindhu already having exited the tournament on Tuesday, Saina is the sole remaining Indian in women’s singles.

Defending men’s doubles champions Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and former world No. 1 Kidambi Srikanth also picked up victories in Day 2 of the tournament in Bangkok.

While Srikanth bested fellow Indian Sourabh Verma 21-12, 21-11 in the men’s singles, Chirag and Satwik had to work for their victory against South Korea's Kim Gi Jung and Lee Yong Dae.

The Indian pair lost their first game but bounced right back to win the match 19-21, 21-16, 21-14.

There were, however, a few disappointing results as well.

In the first match of the day involving Indians, men’s doubles pairing of M.R. Arjun and Dhruv Kapila squandered their advantage and went down 13-21, 21-8, 24-22 to Malaysia’s Ong Yew Sin and Teo Ee Yi.

Parupalli Kashyap, meanwhile, looked rusty against his Canadian opponent Jason Anthony Ho-Shue in the first game but did well to fight back in the second.

However, he had to retire hurt midway through the decider due to a muscle pull. Parupalli Kashyap conceded the match when the score was 21-9, 13-21, 14-8.

Sameer Verma, too, exited the men’s singles event after going down tamely to Indonesia’s Shesar Hiren Rhustavito 21-15, 21-15.

Doubles player B Sumeeth Reddy, meanwhile, had a forgettable outing at the Thailand Open. First, in mixed doubles, he and his wife and partner N Sikki Reddy crashed out after a 22-20, 20-17 loss to Hong Kong's Tang Chun Man and Tse Ying Suet.

Later in men’s doubles, Sumeeth and his partner Manu Attri lost out to Thai duo Weeraphat Phakjarung and Wongsathorn Thongkham.

HS Prannoy also fell in his first round hurdle. He won the first game, but fizzled away in the later period to slump to a 13-21, 21-14, 21-8 against world No. 10 Lee Zii Jia of Malaysia.

Lead photo: Badmintonphoto - Courtesy of BWF

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