Seoul: P V Sindhu and Sameer Verma advanced to the quarter-finals with straight-game wins in their respective women’s and men’s singles preliminaries of the USD 600,000 Korea Super Series here on Thursday.
However, it was curtains for Parupalli Kashyap and B Sai Praneeth — both of whom bowed out of the tournament after losing their second-round men’s singles matches.
Olympic silver-medallist Sindhu saw off Thailand’s Nitchaon Jindapol 22-20 21-17 to set up a clash with Japan’s Minatsu Mitani, who won a bronze medal at the 2014 World Championships and had also defeated Saina Nehwal in the finals to clinch the 2012 French Open title.
Hong Kong Super Series finalist and Syed Modi Grand Prix gold winner Sameer defeated Hong Kong’s Wong Wing Ki Vincent 21-19 21-13 in 41 minutes. He will need to raise his game by a few notches when he faces local hot favourite Son Wan Ho.
Son Wan, seeded top, had to dig deep to end Kashyap’s run. He battled for an hour and 16 minutes before getting the better of the Indian 21-16 17-21 21-16 to reach the last- eight stage.
Praneeth fought hard before going down 13-21 24-26 to seventh seeded Tzu Wei Wang of Chinese Taipei in a contest that lasted 40 minutes.
In men’s doubles, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty showcased rising Indian prowess in men’s doubles, beating seventh seeded Chinese Taipei combo of Lee Jhe-Huei and Lee Yang 23-21 16-21 21-8 in 51 minutes in a second round match.
The young Indian duo will make their maiden appearance in a Superseries quarter-final on Friday. They will next take on third-seeded Japanese combination of Takeshi Kamura and Keigo Sonoda.
Earlier, World No. 4 Sindhu, who clinched a maiden silver at Glasgow World Championship recently, had come into the match with a 1-1 record against Jindapol, who had beaten the Indian at Syed Modi International last year.
Sindhu had to battle hard in the opening game with World No. 16 Jindapol managing to grab a 9-7 and 13-10 lead but the Indian broke off at 14-16 with six straight points. The Thai shuttler drew parity before Sindhu closed the issue.
The second game was also a close contest with both the shuttlers locked in a duel till 8-8.
Sindhu moved ahead and grabbed a 12-9 lead and even though Jindapol managed to claw back at 15-15, Sindhu ensured that she had the last laugh.
Meanwhile, Rankireddy and Shetty were sharp from the outset, matching their hard-hitting Chinese Taipei opponents in the quick-fire exchanges and keeping their composure at the end of a tense first game.
Shetty was a revelation at the front with his interceptions, while his partner kept banging down big smashes from the back.
Although their opponents fought their way back in by taking the second game, the Indians had plenty in reserve in the decider, in which they shot off to a 10-2 lead and never let go.
“It’s unreal,” said Shetty. “We didn’t expect to enter the quarter-finals. Coming in, we had a bad show at the World Championships. This is the biggest victory we’ve had. It’s a big boost for us.”
Rankireddy said the experience of having played qualifying matches in mixed doubles helped him adjust to the drift in the hall.
“I played the qualifying rounds, so I knew the direction of the drift and that made it easier to control the shuttle.
We played a Chinese Taipei pair in the first round. They play the same style — a lot of drives. We knew that if they play that style, we could keep the shuttle down and control the rallies. We just stuck to the plan.