All the top Women’s Singles contenders progressed into the second round at the Yonex-Sunrise India Open 2017 today.
Defending champion Ratchanok Intanon (Thailand), former champion Saina Nehwal (India), her compatriot Pusarla V Sindhu, Spain’s Carolina Marin, Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi and Nozomi Okuhara and Korea’s Sung Ji Hyun progressed without much fuss. The only casualty was eighth seed Busanan Ongbamrungphan (Thailand), who fell to young Chinese prospect Chen Xiaoxin 17-21 21-16 21-15.
Intanon (featured image), whose stellar early season form last year began with the India Open triumph followed by wins in Malaysia and Singapore, had some trouble against Li Xuerui-lookalike Gao Fangjie (China) but powered through in straight games, 21-15 21-19.
“I’m not thinking about my title defence,” Intanon said. “A lot of players are playing well and it’s tough. I cannot assume that I will defend three consecutive titles. I’m only thinking of making the semi-finals.
“I had an injury last year before the Olympics. After playing in Dubai, I decided to take my time to get back. I don’t want to force myself because if I injure myself again, I will lose a few months.
“I know I have a lot of points to defend. But I can get points later. It’s not about technique now, it’s about speed and power.”
Carolina Marin took her time to get going against Korea’s Kim Hyo Min. Once she had the first game in the bag, the Spaniard stepped on the gas and left her rival trailing in the dust: 21-17 21-10.
“I’m happy to win the first match – it was important to play well in the beginning if I hope to do well in the tournament,” said Marin. “I took some time to adjust… you have to control the shuttle, you have to adjust to the wind in the hall, and I was on the fast side in the first game. I was prepared for her – I always see videos of my opponents. I always have a strategy for every opponent.”
Top seed Marin faces India’s Rituparna Das, while Intanon takes on another Chinese prospect, Zhang Yiman.
In Men’s Singles, Viktor Axelsen fended off a combative Ajay Jayaram, edging the Indian in two close games: 23-21 21-17. The Dane will take on the player he lost to in the 2015 final, Kidambi Srikanth.
“It’s always tough to play an Indian in the first round,” said Axelsen. “I handled it okay, although I was trailing behind. He made it hard for me, he was good at controlling the conditions. He’s got good skill at the net, good deception, so I had to be ready.”
Having lost two straight finals at this tournament, Axelsen hoped for a better show this year: “It means a lot to make two finals; I like being on court here. I hope I can go one step further this time,” said Axelsen.
Srikanth stopped Zhao Junpeng, leaving only one Chinese in the Men’s Singles draw – Tian Houwei, who made his way past Hong Kong’s Wei Nan 21-12 21-19.
In Women’s Doubles, Thailand’s Puttita Supajirakul/Sapsiree Taerattanachai outplayed Japan’s Arisa Higashino/Ayane Kurihara 21-11 21-14. Facing them in the next round will be India’s Ashwini Ponnappa/Sikki Reddy, 21-16 21-16 winners over England’s Gabrielle Adcock/Jessica Pugh.