Thailand Open: PV Sindhu, Sai Praneeth lose in first round
World champion PV Sindhu suffered a shock defeat to Mia Blichfeldt in the opening round of Thailand Open Super 1000 event on Tuesday. The world number seven lost the 74-minute battle on her return to international badminton, following the COVID-enforced break. Sindhu, seeded sixth, was trounced 21-16, 24-26, 13-21 by Blichfeldt, while world number 13 Sai Praneeth also lost his men's singles clash.
Sindhu made a resounding start, claiming a crucial 6-3 lead. She was all guns blazing in the opening game, having won 21-16. In the second game as well, the Indian shuttler secured an 11-8 advantage, however, the Danish made a turnaround and won 26-24. Sindhu reeled 6-11 in the deciding game, giving Blichfeldt a seven-point advantage later on. Eventually, the latter won 21-13.
Among men (singles), world number 13, Sai Praneeth, was handed a straight-game defeat by Thailand's Kantaphon Wangcharoen on his return to badminton. The front-runner to represent India at the Tokyo Olympics, Praneeth, lost 16-21, 10-21 to Wangcharoen, his second defeat to the Thailand player. India now pin their hopes on Srikanth Kidambi, who will be in action on Wednesday.
Earlier in the day, the Indian mixed doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Ashwini Ponnappa claimed a 21-11, 27-29, 21-16 win over the Indonesian pair of Hafiz Faizal and Gloria Widjaja, in what turned out to be a thriller.
The defeat of Sindhu ended India's campaign in women's singles as the other contender Saina Nehwal returned COVID-positive, and opted out on the eve of the tournament. While HS Prannoy also tested positive, Parupalli Kashyap will be kept under quarantine. Notably, Nehwal and Prannoy were forced to give walkovers from the tournament after being diagnosed with the virus.