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HomeSportsFrench Open | Sindhu, Srikanth enter second round; Prannoy loses

French Open | Sindhu, Srikanth enter second round; Prannoy loses

PV Sindhu. Photo: X/@BAI_Media

A determined PV Sindhu advanced to the women’s singles second round after grinding out a three-game win over Canada’s Michelle Li at French Open Super 750 badminton tournament here on March 6.

Sindhu, a double Olympic medallist, faced stiff competition from former world no. 8 Li but she managed to eke out a come-from-behind 20-22 22-20 21-19 win in a riveting opening round match that lasted an hour and 20 minutes at the Arena Porte de la Chapelle here.

Kidambi Srikanth too progressed to the men’s singles second round with a stunning win over Chinese Taipei’s Chou Tien Chen but HS Prannoy fell short to make an early exit.

The world No. 24 Srikanth, who is racing against time to qualify for the Paris Olympics, outwitted 14th-ranked Chen 21-15, 20-22, 21-8 in a 66-minute opening round match for his third win over the Taiwanese shuttler in seven meetings.

In the next round, the 2021 world championships silver medallist Srikanth will fight it out against China’s world No. 17 Lu Guang Zu, who ended the campaign of Prannoy with a fine 21-17, 21-17 win at the adjacent court.

For Sindhu, who is playing only her second tournament since returning from a knee injury that she suffered in October last year in the same event, it was her 10th win over Li in 13 meetings.

For most part of the match, Sindhu, who had lost her most recent meeting to Li at the Thailand Open in May last year, was still searching for her ‘A’ game as she kept fighting.

Li’s attack worked for most part of the first half of the match with good shot quality at the mid court region. But Sindhu slowly grew in confidence as she fought from 13-17 down after losing the opening game to pocket the second game.

While Sindhu took time to get used to the conditions, Li was right on the money from the start, playing a wide variety of shots during the short and snappy rallies. The Canadian held 11-7 lead at the first break.

With the legendary Prakash Padukone and Agus Dwi Santoso at the coach’s chair, Sindhu managed to get her act together as she started pushing Li to the back and came up with forehand crosses and wonderful drops.

Soon it was 14-14 and then 19-19 when Li grabbed a game point only for Sindhu to draw level with a lucky point at the net. Li again grabbed a game point but this time Sindhu sailed long as the Canadian sealed the opening game.

Li took a 7-4 lead after the change of sides with her cross-court drop shot paying dividends even as Sindhu was left to deal with unforced errors. A forehand smash helped Li take 11-6 advantage at the interval.

Sindhu managed to move to 12-14 with a couple of body smashes but an alert Li made it 17-13 with a superb cross-court and precise returns.

But momentum shifted again as Sindhu unleashed an accurate smash and clawed back to 18-18 with Li committing errors at the net and at the flanks.

Sindhu was up 19-18 next with a return that kissed the backline but she sent one wide. The Indian grabbed a game point but Li saved it with a phenomenal cross block.

Li sailed one long next and Sindhu then unleashed a smash to take the match to the decider.

The Indian made a good start in the decider as her angled returns and smashes helped her to gain a 8-6 lead before she took 11-7 advantage at interval.

Sindhu looked in flow as she moved to 13-9 but Li again produced some tight cross-court net shots as she clawed back to 13-13 after the Indian went long.

With unforced errors from both the shuttlers, the scoreline read 17-17. A backhand kill on the body took Li to 18-17 but a cross-court return kept Sindhu afloat.

Li then floated long as Sindhu was two points sway. The Indian then grabbed two match points. While Li saved one with a perfect return, she went wide next as Sindhu let out a cry.

Srikanth stuns Chen

Srikanth was by far the better player as he roared back from 5-7, winning 14 off the next 17 points to earn the bragging rights.

Kidambi Srikanth. Photo: X/@BAI_Media

Kidambi Srikanth. Photo: X/@BAI_Media

However, Chen produced a rearguard in the second game and managed to keep his nose ahead in time to take the match to the decider after a gruelling battle of nerves.

After the change of sides, Srikanth was back in his element as from 7-5, the Indian pocketed nine straight points to leave Chen far behind.

The Taiwanese managed three points before the Indian banged the door on his face with the remaining five points.

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