French Open: Saina Nehwal, Kidmabi Srikanth, PV Sindhu enter quarterfinals
Defending Champion Kidambi Srikanth and Saina Nehwal eked out hard-fought victories to advance into the quarterfinals of the USD 750,000 French Open BWF World Tour Super 750 in Paris on Thursday.
Both games went into the decider but Srikanth and Saina showed fierce determination to ultimately win. Srikanth beat the 25th ranked Lee Dong Keun of Vietnam 12-21 21-16 21-18 in an hour and 13 minutes long match.
Meanwhile, Saina continued her purple patch by defeating Nozomi Okuhara of Japan 10-21, 21-14, 21-17 for the second time in consecutive weeks. She had earlier beaten the Japanese in the quarterfinals of the Denmark Open.
Ace shuttler PV Sindhu, who on Thursday regained her World No.2 ranking also progressed to the quarters with a straight-set victory Sayaka Sato of Japan. Sindhu defeated Sato 21-17, 21-16 in the second round to advance.
Reigning champion Srikanth had to recover from a first game defeat to take the match into the decider and clinch a victory. He had lost the opening set without offering much fight but showed gest resilience in the second, where he came back from being 5-6 at one point to taking a five-point lead and moving to 13-8 in no time. From there it looked a tough chance for Dong to stage a comeback and Srikanth ensured the 21-16 win to take the match to a third and final set.
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It was a close battle in the decider with both shuttlers not letting the other escape to an easy victory. Srikanth led 17-14 at one stage and steadily was looking to move towards match point, but Dong bounced back and made it 18-18. However, there was no stopping Srikanth, who once again sealed three straight points to come out as the winner.
The world number six will next face familiar foe Kento Momota of Japan in the quarters. Momota beat compatriot Kazumasa Sakai 21-17, 21-17 to set up a clash with Srikanth. The World No.1 defeated Srikanth just last week in Denmark and enjoys a healthy 9-3 head-to-head record against Srikanth.
Saina also has a tough battle at hand and will have to overcome the top-ranked Tai Tzu Ying of Chinses Taipei to progress any further. Tai faced little difficulties in beating Gao Fangjie 21-12, 21-17. She had last week beaten Saina in the final of the Denmark Open and enjoys a 13-5 head-to-head record against the Indian.