TOKYO: Olympics medallists Pusarla V Sindhu and Saina Nehwal crashed out of the $325,000 Japan Open Super Series suffering straight-game defeats in the second round yesterday.
However, two other Indians, Kidambi Srikanth and HS Prannoy, advanced to the quarter-finals of the men’s singles.
Playing local favourite and world champion Nozomi Okuhara for the third consecutive time, Sindhu could not bring to the fore her best game and committed too many errors to go down 18-21, 8-21 in a lop-sided 47-minute contest.
The match lacked the long intense rallies, which were the hallmark of their last two contests - the 110-minute World Championship final and last week’s 83-minute Korea Open summit clash, which Sindhu won.
Rio Olympics silver medallist Sindhu squandered a 11-9 and 18-16 leads in the opening game and looked completely out of sorts in the second to bow out early.
London Games bronze medallist Nehwal too squandered a 14-10 lead in the opening game and a 6-4 advantage in the second to go down 16-21, 13-21 to Olympic champion Carolina Marin of Spain, seeded fifth.
But world No 8 Srikanth, who clinched back-to-back titles in Indonesia and Australia this year, kept the Indian interest alive in the tournament, demolishing Hong Kong’s Hu Yun 21-12, 21-11 within half an hour to make it to the final eight.
The Indian will now face the recently-crowned world champion Viktor Axelsen of Denmark.
Currently locked 2-2 in the head-to-head record, Srikanth had initial success against Axelsen but the Dane had an upper hand in the last two meetings, winning in straight games.
“It was a good match. He can be very dangerous if you give him a chance, so I wanted to play very consistent,” said Srikanth.
US Open champion Prannoy upstaged Chinese Taipei’s Hsu Jen Hao 21-16 23-21. He will now play against second seed Chinese Shi Yuqi.
World No 2 Shi, who had reached the finals of All England Championship early this year, staved off a challenge from Syed Modi International winner Sameer Verma 10-21, 21-17, 21-15 in another match.
In mixed doubles, Ashwini Ponnappa and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy played their heart out before losing 27-29, 21-16, 12-21 to Indonesian fourth seeds Praveen Jordan and Debby Susanto in a match that lasted an hour and six minutes.