Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth suffered first-round exits at the season-opening Malaysia Open on Tuesday, where the women’s doubles pair of Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand were the only Indians to advance on the first day.
Treesa and Gayatri, ranked at world No 16, beat Hong Kong’s Yeung Nga Ting and Yeung Pui Lam 21-19, 21-14 in 34 minutes to provide the sole bright spot for India at the newly-upgraded Super 1000 tournament. It was a good win, made better by the draw opening up in their section. In the next round, they will face Stoeva sisters, Gabriela Stoeva and Stefani Stoeva, who stunned eighth seeds Pearly Tan and Thinaah Muralitharan in the opener.
Saina, who endured a tough 2022, battling multiple injuries and a lack of form, went down 12-21, 21-17, 12-21 to Han Yue of China. Having lost the first game, Saina, who has slipped to world No 30, fought back to force a decider in a women’s singles first round match. However, she fell behind as Han built a sizable lead in the decider.
Srikanth, who has also been struggling for form recently, lost to unseeded Kenta Nishimoto of Japan 19-21, 14-21 in 42 minutes. Srikanth, ranked 13th, fought hard in the opening game, but Nishimoto managed to take the lead. The two were tied at 12-12 in the second game but the Japanese ran away with the contest from there.
Akarshi Kashyap went down to Wen Chi Hsu of Chinese Taipei 10-21, 8-21 in her women’s singles opener.
In men’s doubles, Krishna Prasad Garaga and Vishnuvardhan Goud Panjala went down in straight games Kang Min Hyuk and Seo Seung Jae. The Koreans, ranked No 18, went down 10-21, 18-21.
Day 2 on Wednesday will see PV Sindhu back in action after a six-month injury layoff as well as the all-Indian clash between Lakshya Sen and HS Prannoy.
With PTI Inputs