JAKARTA: Three-time champion Saina Nehwal edged out Thailand's Ratchanok Intanon in a thrilling opening round to make a rousing start to her campaign at the Indonesia Super Series Premier here today.
Saina, who has slipped out of the World top-10 for the first time in seven years, rallied her way to a 17-21 21-18 21-12 win over the eighth seeded Thai player, who is a former World Champion.
Saina, who had a 7-5 head-to-head record against Ratchanok, will face another Thai player Nitchaon Jindapol in the next round and is likely to clash with World No. 1 Tai Tzu Ying in the quarters.
In mixed doubles, B Sumeeth Reddy and Ashwini Ponnappa suffered a 12-21 9-21 loss to Indonesian combo of Irfan Fadhilah and Weni Anggraini to crash out of the tournament.
Saina made a good start to the match, leading 10-4 at one stage but she blew the advantage after the break as Ratchanok clawed back at 14-14 and then marched ahead to earn the bragging rights.
In the second game, Saina opened up a 12-7 lead and despite the Thai girl levelling scores at 16-16, the Indian surged ahead to bounce back.
In the decider, Saina dished out a dominating game as she lead right from the start 8-2 and didn't give any chance to Ratchanok to make a comeback.
"You have to respect the conditions here regardless of what score you are batting at. That is the beautiful thing about playing here, it challenges you as a batsman," he added.
The reception marked the launch of 'Cricket Connects'
exhibition, which opens at the Nehru Centre in London and will be touring Edinburgh and Birmingham as a celebration of cricketing ties between India and the UK.
"What better way to connect than cricket. Everyone is hoping for an India-England final at The Oval in this special UK-India Year of Culture. May the better team win," said Indian high commissioner to the UK, Yashvardhan Kumar Sinha.
The reception was attended by a number of former India and England cricket personalities including Farookh Engineer, Dilip Doshi and former England players Andrew Strauss and Monty Panesar.