Lakshya Sen and HS Prannoy reached the second round of the All England Championships with hard-fought, straight-game wins in the men's singles competition in Birmingham on Tuesday.
Last year's finalist Sen knocked out fifth seeded Chou Tien Chen of Chinese Taipei 21-18, 21-19 in 48 minutes while world No 9 Prannoy survived some anxious moments before prevailing 21-19, 22-20 against Tzu Wei Wang in his 49 minute.
In a high intensity match, Sen, who has slipped to world No 19, used his speed and attack to get his first win over the world No 5 after losing twice before.
Chou took a 3-1 lead but Sen clawed back to 7-6 and led 11-8 at the mid-game interval. The fast-paced rallies continued as Sen kept a firm grip to move to 15-9 but Chou won eight of the next 10 points to level at 17-17, only to give it all away with two errors.
A good judgement at the baseline took Sen to 19-17, a lucky net chord helped Chou make it 18-19 but he made another error and Sen converted his first gajme point.
The second game was locked 5-5 before the Indian produced a forehand flick to keep it 7-8 after a long rally. Sen looked to step up the attack, while Chou tried to vary the pace and prolong the rallies. However, it was Sen who had a slender one-point advantage at the break.
Sen kept building up his lead, navigating out of tricky situations to lead 16-13 but his opponent almost made a comeback at 18-19.
Just then, Chou made a service error to give up match points and Sen unleashed a booming return to seal the contest on the second.
Earlier, Prannoy looked in good touch as he started with a comfortable 11-4 lead. However, Wang cut down the deficit to three points at 11-14 before Prannoy managed to pull away to 18-12 with four straight points.
Wang broke the streak and then punished Prannoy for his weak returns and moved to 16-19 with a deceptive net return. A couple of erroneous backhands from Prannoy brought them level at 19-19. But the Indian then unleashed a cross court smash to move to game point and then sent down another straight smash to close the game.
The second game was a tightly fought battle from the word go as Wang opened up a 7-2 lead. Prannoy levelled the scores, only to miss the lines at his opponent's forehand corner twice.
The two engaged in a slugfest next, moving neck and neck till 16-16. Two superb returns gave Prannoy a 19-17 lead but 19-19 again. Wang went long next to hand over a match point to the Indian, who couldn't convert it but he sealed it with the second once as Wang went to net.
Sen will square off against either Anders Antonsen or Rasmus Gemke in the second round, while Prannoy will meet third seeded Indonesian Anthony Sinisuka Ginting next.
Wednesday will see the other Indians in action, with PV Sindhu and the doubles teams starting their campaign.
(With PTI Inputs)