NEW DELHI: It was deja vu for PV Sindhu. Taking part in just her second match after returning from an ankle injury last week, the Indian tasted a harsh reality in the ongoing India Open Super 750 event at the KD Jadhav Indoor Complex here on Tuesday. And it was a familiar opponent who denied her. With the Indian yet to grasp the pace of the game at the highest level and rusty after missing around five months of competitive badminton, Supanida Katethong of Thailand showed her readiness to assert her dominance and advance to the next round.
It was Supanida who had beaten the Indian in the last edition of the event too. With the crowd cheering out loud, Sindhu displayed courage (especially after the change of ends), something that helped her win numerous tense battles in the past. But on this cold Tuesday evening, that courage she showed was not quite enough. The World No 21 from Thailand prevailed 21-14, 22-20. Despite the loss, it was a given that this was going to be a serious test for Sindhu, who was seeded No 5. "Coming back after an injury is not an easy thing. After returning, it takes a lot of time to regain that confidence level," the double Olympic medallist had admitted, a day before the first-round match.
Moreover, Supanida had done her homework. "We were very well prepared on how to play against her. We know she is such a strong player and has a good attacking game. We tried to analyse before we came here and we tried to implement that in practice and I managed to execute what I wanted to do very well," a visibly delighted Supanida said. While Sindhu quietly exited the premises, it was a fruitful day for Lakshya Sen, who's India's best bet after Sindhu's swift exit. But Lakshya's win came at a cost, from India's perspective.
Facing senior pro HS Prannoy for the second-straight week, Lakshya turned the tables this time with some display. Lakshya seemed like a man with real intent and had Prannoy on his backfoot from the get-go. Prannoy, who was a high performer in the second game, fought back but that didn't last long. Lakshya won 21-14, 21-15. India men's doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty had no problems dispatching Christopher Grimley and Matthew Grimley 21-13, 21-15.
Later in the evening, Saina Nehwal had the crowd in raptures with a 21-17,12-21, 21-19 victory over Mia Blichfeldt of Denmark. For someone who's faced many first-round exits in recent times, this is a massive shot in the arm.