Lakshya Sen defeats Kodai Naraoka, Saina Nehwal prevails in three games

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In a battle of familiar rivals from their junior days, Lakshya Sen prevailed against fast-rising Japanese star Kodai Naraoka in straight games to move into the second round of the Indonesia Masters Super 500 event in Jakarta on Wednesday.

Later on, Saina Nehwal prevailed in a battle of veterans as she won 21-15 17- 21 21-15 in 60 minutes against Pai Yu Po.

But tasting defeats on Wednesday were HS Prannoy and Srikanth Kidambi among others, who both bowed out in straight games from the men’s singles main draw.

Naraoka, who had spent more than six hours on court during his run to the final at Malaysia Open Super 1000 two weeks ago, looked to be struggling physically towards the end of the match. But Lakshya Sen’s aggressive approach also paid dividends as he won 21-12, 21-11 in 44 minutes.

With this win, Lakshya’s head-to-head against Naraoka stood at 2-3, having previously won the Youth Olympic Games semifinal in 2018. The Indian, now ranked 12 in the world, will face Malaysia’s Ng Tze Yong next in a rematch of the men’s singles final at the Commonwealth Games that the Indian won to be crowned champion.

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Elsewhere, Srikanth Kidambi bowed out in straight games against local shuttler Shesar Hiren Rhustavito 10-21, 22-24. The Indian had two game point opportunities in the second game to force a decider but the world No 26, who had never lost to Srikanth in four previous meetings, took the match in straight games.

There were also defeats for Malvika Bansod and Priyanshu Rajawat (who qualified for the main draw with two wins on Tuesday) in singles. Bansod bowed out in straight games against former world champion Ratchanok Intanon while Rajawat lost in three against Chico Aura Dwi Wardoyo.

Nehwal had big leads at the start of both the opening and second games but Pai came back to level things up. While the Indian arrested the slide in opening game, she couldn’t in the second. In the decider, it was 10-10 with a long rally to decide the lead at the final change of ends. From there on, Nehwal stayed in control to win in three. Her next opponent will be either Han Yue, the eighth seed from China.

Later in the evening it was not to be for HS Prannoy, who bowed out in straight games against Japan’s Kanta Tsuneyama 19-21, 10-21. Prannoy had a handy 15-7 lead at one point in the opening game but the Japanese shuttler fought back to level things up. A gruelling rally at 20-19 could have gone either way but Tsuneyama clinched it and took the opening game. The second game was a breeze after that.

Aakarshi Kashyap and Sikki Reddy-Rohan Kapoor also bowed out in their opening round matches.

Also on Tuesday, new women’s doubles pairing of Tanisha Crasto and Ashwini Ponnappa made their way to the second round after defeating compatriots Ashna Roya and Haritha MH. Ponnappa, however, could not progress in mixed doubles to the main draw as she lost out with Sumeeth Reddy.

There were defeats in the men’s doubles main draw opening round for Krishna Prasad Garaga and Vishnuvardhan Goud Panjala, Ishaan Bhatnagar and Sai Pratheek too. B Sai Praneeth won one match in the qualification but failed to secure a passage to the main draw after losing his second. Kiran George and Mithun Manjunath also bowed out in the men’s singles qualification stage.

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