India enjoyed a day of mixed fortunes at the BWF World Championships in Basel, Switzerland, with PV Sindhu and B Sai Praneeth entering the quarterfinals, even as Saina Nehwal, Kidambi Srikanth and HS Prannoy lost their round of 16 matches on Thursday.
Sindhu advanced to the quarterfinals in style, breezing past Beiwen Zhang of the U.S. 21-16, 21-6. Sindhu, ranked no. 5 in the world, took control of the match early on and never eased up against the world no.10. Sindhu will now face Chinese Taipei's Tai Tzu Ying on Friday.
.@Pvsindhu1 is the first women's singles player in history to reach the quarterfinals of the #BWFWorldChampionships in each of her first six appearances at the tournament.@BAI_Media #BWFWorldChampionships2019
- Mohit Shah (@mohit_shah17) August 22, 2019
Earlier in the day, Sai Praneeth executed a tight, straight-games win over Indonesia's Anthony Ginting. He became just the second Indian man, after Prakash Padukone, to reach the quarterfinals at two World Championships. He'd reached the quarters last year too, where he lost to eventual champion Kento Momota.
In a tough first game Sai Praneeth, ranked no. 19 in the world, edged past the world no.8 by the smallest of margins, 21-19. With both players on the front-foot, it made for compelling viewing. The second game, though, was pretty one-sided as Sai Praneeth dominated to take it 21-13, a run of 13 points from the last 15 highlighting his dominance. Moving a visibly tired Ginting from side to side and back to front with his well-disguised drops and smashes, Sai Praneeth let out a roar when he booked his berth for a last-eight clash against world no. 4 Jonatan Christie.
Sindhu is now the last Indian in the women's singles draw, after Saina Nehwal missed out on two match points in her round of 16 clash with Denmark's Mia Blichfeldt. Saina took the opening game 21-15, and looked in some measure of control in the second game when she led 11-9 at the mid-game break. However, world no. 12 Blichfeldt kept pace with an opponent ranked four places above her, and saved two match points in taking the second game 27-25. The third game was a relatively one-sided affair after Blichfeldt led 11-8 at the break, seeing off her opponent 15-21, 27-25, 21-12.
Earlier in the day, Kantaphon Wangcharoen of Thailand defeated India's top-ranked men's player Srikanth in straight games 21-14, 21-13, while HS Prannoy went down to Japan's Momota -- the top-ranked player in the world -- who won 21-19, 21-12 in under an hour to enter the quarterfinals and keep his title defence alive.
The first game was decided by razor-thin margins. After some close early exchanges, Momota won six of the next nine points from 5-4 up to go into the break leading 11-7. Afterwards, Prannoy began to assert himself in the match more, hitting several smashes to come back from 12-9 down to 12-12, and later 15-15. However, a few errors from the Indian from positions of control helped Momota to edge ahead.
The second game was a more one-sided affair. From 6-4 up, Momota put his foot on the accelerator, winning five of the next six points to lead 11-5 at the changeover. The Japanese continued to apply pressure as he drew more and more errors from Prannoy, sealing the win comfortably in the end.