sports saina

Saina Nehwal of India competes during the women's singles quarterfinal match against Nozomi Okuhara of Japan at Singapore Badminton Open in Singapore on April 12. (Xinhua/Then Chih Wey/IANS photo)

BANGKOK (IANS) — Saina Nehwal marked her return to competitive badminton with a straight game win over Thailand's Phittayaporn Chaiwan to reach the second round of the Thailand Open on July 31.

Saina got past Chaiwan 21-17, 21-19 in her opening contest in what was a good day for Indian shuttlers with the likes of Kidambi Srikanth, H.S. Prannoy, Parupalli Kashyap and Shubhanker Dey progressing to the next round.

In a major upset, India's mixed doubles pair of Ashwini Ponnappa and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy stunned Olympic silver medallists Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying of Malaysia 21-18, 18-21, 21-17 to sail into the second round.

However, Sameer Verma lost to Malaysia's Lee Zee Jia 23-21, 11-21, 5-21 in 52 minutes.

Saina will next play Japan's Sayaka Takahashi after the latter beat Indonesia's Ruselli Hartawan.

It was hard work for Srikanth as his match with Chinese qualifier Ren Peng Bo lasted an hour and seven minutes. Srikanth finally came out victorious 21-13, 17-21, 21-19. He will face next Thailand's Khosit Phetpradab in the second round.

Prannoy beat Hong Kong's Wong Wing Ki Vincent of 21-16, 22-20 while Kashyap came back from game down to beat Israel's Misha Zilberman 18-21, 21-8, 21-14. Both players now face tough second round encounters with Prannoy facing sixth seed Japanese Kenta Nishimoto and Kashyap playing Chou Tien Chen of Chinese Taipei.

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