Indian badminton ace Saina Nehwal on Wednesday night beat defending champion Nozomi Okuhara of Japan to reach the second round of the All England Open Badminton Championships in Birmingham.
Saina edged past Okuhara in straight games, 21-15, 21-14, to improve her head-to-head record against her Japanese opponent to 6-1. Earlier on Wednesday, Saina’s compatriots PV Sindhu and HS Prannoy both made winning starts to their campaigns.
Sindhu dominated from start to finish to drub 33rd ranked Denmark’s Mette Poulsen 21-10, 21-11 in her first round women’s singles match.
In the men’s singles, H S Prannoy came from a game down to beat Qiao Bin 17-21, 22-20, 21-19, but it was curtains for Kidambi Srikanth as he lost to Zhao Junpeng of China 19-21, 21-19, 12-21.
While Sindhu will face Indonesia’s Dinar Dyah Ayustine in the second round, Saina will be up against Fabienne Deprez of Germany later on Thursday.
Prannoy will face a tough opponent in the seventh seed Houwei Tian of China.
In the qualifiers earlier, the Verma brothers — Sourabh and Sameer — lost in the opening round, while Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy won the first match before losing in the second round, failing to make the main draw.
Sameer, who had reached the finals at Hong Kong Open, lost 17-21 12-21 to Japan’s Kazumasa Sakai, while national champion Sourabh’s fight against Anthony Sinisuka Ginting of Indonesia ended with a 10-21 21-14 20-22 loss.
Ashwini and Sikki defeated England combination of Lauren Smith and Sarah Walker 21-17 16-21 24-22 in the first round and then lost 15-21 21-18 18-21 to Swiss Nadia Fankhauser and Sannatasah Saniru of Malaysia in the second round.