Two-time Olympic medallist PV Sindhu couldn't manage to get the winning start in 2023 as she suffered a loss at the hands of familiar foe Rio 2016 champion Carolina Marin of Spain in the opening round of Malaysia Open Super 1000 badminton tournament, here on Wednesday.
Coming back to action after a five-month-long injury layoff, Sindhu lost 12-21, 21-10, 15-21 in her first match since the 2022 Commonwealth Games gold medal win. It was the first meeting between the Rio 2016 finalists since Marin beat Sindhu at the Swiss Open final in 2021.
The Spaniard dominated the opening game right from the start and clinched it easily 21-12. But the Indian ace bounced back in the second game with a healthy 11-5 lead at the time of the interval and quickly raced to 21-10 to force the decider.
In the deciding game, Marin restored her momentum and headed into the break with an early lead and wrapped up the match with ease after the change of sides. On the other hand, HS Prannoy and the world championships bronze medallist men's pair of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy sailed into the round of 16.
In men's singles, Prannoy overcame Commonwealth Games champion Lakshya Sen in three games, 22-24, 21-12, 21-18 in the first round. The men's doubles pair Satwik and Chirag trounced the world No. 9 Korean combination of Choi Sol Gyu and Kim Won Ho to win 21-16, 21-13.
After losing the closely fought opening game, Prannoy took the second game and was trailing 2-7 in the decider before scripting a comeback to clinch the match in one hour and 15 minutes.
Prannoy, the only Indian left in the fray in the singles event, will take on Indonesian Chico Aura Dwi Wardoyo to set up a potential quarterfinal clash with second-seed local player Lee Zii Jia.
Sindhu's loss ended India's challenge in the women's singles category as Malvika Bansod lost world No. 2 Korean An Se Young 9-21, 13-21.Earlier on Tuesday, Saina Nehwal went down fighting 12-21, 21-17, 12-21 to Han Yue of China in the first round and Aakarshi Kashyap too suffered defeat in her first round at the hands of Wen Chi Hsu of Chinese Taipei 10-21, 8-21.
Commonwealth Games 2022 bronze medallist women's doubles pair Gayatri Gopichand and Treesa Jolly progressed in the pre-quarterfinals and the Kidambi Srikanth suffered a first-round exit with a 19-21, 14-21 loss to world No. 17 Kenta Nishimoto of Japan on Tuesday.