Kidambi Srikanth’s Olympic qualification took a severe blow after he was knocked out of the Malaysia Masters on Wednesday following a first-round exit against Taiwan’s Chou Tien Chen. Srikanth lost 17-21, 5-21. The cut off date to pocket a berth for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is April 1.
Another top Indian shuttler B Sai Praneeth made a first-round exit after going down to Denmark’s Rasmus Gemke in straight games in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.
The World championships bronze-medallist’s 11-21 15-21 loss meant another disappointment for India in the Super 500 tournament following Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty’s first-round defeat in the men’s doubles event on Tuesday.
Later on Wednesday, Parupalli Kashyap will take on top seed Kento Momota in men’s singles.
In what will bring some respite, Saina Nehwal hardly broke a sweat as she advanced to the second round as she beat Belgium’s Lianne Tan 21-15, 21-17 in 36 minutes. Putting behind a tough 2019 season where she faced plenty of health issues and struggled to achieve match fitness, the two-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist looked healthy and agile to begin the new season. Unlike her 2019 season where she had to cope up with her movement, this time she moved well around the court was able to play her shots to perfection.
On Tuesday, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, ranked number 12 in the BWF rankings, lost to world number 19 Ong Yew Sin and Teo Ee Yi of Malaysia.
Lakshya Sen, who had recently claimed the Bangladesh International Challenge, failed to qualify for the main draw as he went down against Denmark’s Hans-Kristian Solberg Vittinghus 21-11 18-21 14-21 in a hard-fought match.
In the qualifying stage, Shubhankar Dey too lost his match against Malaysia’s Liew Daren.
The women’s doubles pair of Pooja Dandu and Sanjana Santosh also failed to make the main draw. The duo lost to Siti Fadia Silva Ramadhanti and Ribka Sugiarto of Indonesia.