Sindhu, Saina, Kidambi lose at French Open

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Rio de Janeiro : India's Sindhu Pusarla plays against Japan's Nozomi Okuhara during a women's singles semifinal match at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday. PTI Photo by Atul Yadav(PTI8_18_2016_000393a)

India suffered a disappointing evening at the French Open on Friday with all three singles shuttlers crashing out one after the other – and in straight games at that. Saina Nehwal went down to Tai Tzu Ying, Kidambi Srikanth to Kento Momota and later PV Sindhu to He Bingjiao in the quarterfinals action.

Nehwal and Srikanth’s losses to respective World No. 1’s continued their abysmal run against Tai Tzu Ying and Momota with the former not able to triumph over the Chinese Taipei player in last 12 attempts and Srikanth unable to beat the Japanese in last six matches. This year alone, six of Nehwal’s 15 losses have come against Tai Tzu Ying; five of Srikanth’s 14 have come against Momota.

Saina started brightly and looked in good touch but couldn’t match the pace of Tzu Ying later on to squander four game points and lose the opening game. She was then no match in the second game and eventually went down 20-22, 11-21. Nehwal led 16-9 and 20-16 at different junctures in the opening game but was unable to close the contest out.

In the opening game, Saina led 16-9 before Tzu Ying reduced the deficit to one point. However, Nehwal brought up four game points with help from the Chinese Taipei shuttler as her unforced errors climbed up. Just as Nehwal saw a glimmer of hope in sealing the game, Tzu Ying snatched it away with six straight points.

The second game was far from an even contest with a spent Nehwal, also beaten by Tzu Ying at the Denmark Open final on Sunday and coming into the match on the back of a three game encounter against Nozomi Okuhara, looking weary from the go. Nehwal saved two match points but the gap was far too much to be bridged.

Srikanth put up a strong and brave fight against Momota but the Japanese shuttler was far too effective when it mattered to win 21-16, 21-19 and he now holds a 9-3 advantage against the Indian.

With hopes pinned on her to keep India’s challenge alive, China’s He Bingjiao kept the competition with the World No 2 Sindhu going to keep their head-to-head at 6-5. The first game saw Bingjiao and Sindhu start evenly before the Chinese seventh seed kept chipping away with regular points as Sindhu played catch up. The Indian shuttler tried to bridge the gap at the latter stage of the game but Bingjiao stayed firm to close out the game.

In the second game, He Bingjiao came from 6-9 down for a remarkable surge that saw her winning nine straight points to then lead 15-9 and shatter Sindhu’s confidence and momentum. Even as Sindhu slowed down the Chinese shuttler’s run to make it 16-14, He Bingjiao was in a comfortable place to close out the match on fourth match point opportunity.

Where the singles shuttlers disappointed, the doubles pairing of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty progressed to the semifinals at the expense of Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy 21-17, 21-11. Rankireddy and Shetty thus became the first Indian men’s pair to enter a Superseries semifinals.

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