Saina Nehwal, Sai Praneeth book pre-quarters berth at BWF World Championships

Saina Nehwal India OpenNew Delhi: Star Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal and Sai Praneeth posted contrasting wins to march into the pre-quarters of the BWF World Championship at the Emirates Centre in Glasgow on Wednesday.

Saina who got a bye in her first round eased past Sabrina Jacquet of Switzerland 21-11, 21-12 in just 33 minutes. The 12th seeded Indian coming out of an injury started off on a strong note and swiftly raced to take a 7-2 lead in the opening game. The Swiss shuttler tried to make a comeback but could not do much as Saina went into the break at 11-6. It was the same story after the match resumed with the Indian quickly wrapping up the first game 21-11 in just 14 minutes. In the second game, Saina started from where she left and finished off her opponent 21-12 to win the match to join PV Sindhu in the pre-quarters of the championship.

“It was a tricky match I felt. Sabrina is a formidable opponent but I am happy that I overpowered her nicely in the match,” Saina said after the match.

The 2010 London Olympics bronze medalist will be up against the winner of the match between her compatriot Tanvi Lad and old nemesis Sung Ji Hyun of Korea. Saina believes that the Indian contingent is well prepared for the tournament and has the ability to go the distance.

“We have very good players representing the country this year and wish to see everyone perform well in the tournament,” she further added.

The in-form Sai Praneeth also made his way into the round of 32 after a hard-fought 14-21, 21-18, 21-19 win over Anthony Ginting of Indonesia. Sai who had lost to Ginting in 2016 Thomas Cup could not get the desired start and was struggling initially as he could not adjust to the pace of the Indonesian; eventually losing the first game 14-21. However, after the change of ends, Sai found his feet and from 16-16, Sai won five of the seven points played to win the game 21-18 to restore parity.

In the decider, Ginting was comfortably poised at 18-12 and it looked like Sai’s campaign would get over any moment. But the Singapore Open winner held on to his nerves and won eight straight points to make it 20-18. The Indonesian made it 20-19 but Sai converted the second match point to seal the deal in 72 minutes.

“It was a very tough match and even though I played well, I must I must admit that I had luck on my side today. I am very thrilled with the outcome and the victory will for sure give me a lot of confidence going ahead in the tournament,” Sai said after the match.

“I was getting caught initially as the shuttle speed was very slow and he was playing very fast. I could not match him initially but slowly adjusted to his speed. He is a tough player and his game has improved a lot since I last played him. I am really happy to win and now I am focused on my next match,” he further added.

“I am going through the best phase of my career and I am confident that if I could continue the way I have been playing, I would do very well in the tournament,” the 25-year-old said.

Sai will be up against the winner of the match between the sixth seeded Chou Tien Chen of Taiper and Marc Zweibler of Germany.