Saina Nehwal
Saina Nehwal was outplayed in the second game, but she played well in the first and third to reach the quarters.Reuters

India's Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu managed to reach the quarterfinals of the Hong Kong Open, defeating Sayaka Sato and Hsu Ya Ching, respectively, on Thursday. It was a decent day for India, with male shuttlers Sameer Verma and Ajay Jayaram also booking their quarters berth but HS Prannoy was knocked out of the competition.

Sindhu started the match on a tight note as Ya Ching was not giving much space to the Indian. But as the first game progressed, Sindhu began to dominate proceedings and clinched the game 21-10 in a comfortable manner.

After taking the first game easily, Sindhu was in no mood to make any error and wanted to finish the game early. She produced some brilliant smashes from the baseline, along with some body shots to put her opponent on the backfoot.

Despite Sindhu's aggression, Ching was not giving up too easily, and was battling it out against the Indian point for point, and levelled it at 12-12. Ching played much better in the second game, challenging Sindhu to the hilt, but her in-form opponent won the game 21-14 to clinch the match. She won the match 21-10, 21-14.

Sindhu, who has gained immense confidence after winning the China Open last week, looked in good form in the ongoing Hong Kong Open. If she can maintain this level of badminton in the future matches, she has it in her to win back-to-back Super Series title.

Earlier in the day, Saina's clash with Sato was expected to be a close encounter, and both the shuttlers were involved in a tight first game, which Saina clinched 21-18.

Things did not start on a bright note for Saina in the second game, with Sato running into a 3-1 lead. Sato seemed to be determined to take the game to a decider. Sato was scoring points in a hurry as she increased that lead to 7-1, and consolidated it with some beautiful shots to make it 18-7. She won 21-9.

Saina might have been disappointed with her second game, but she looked good in the third game, playing some delicate and also powerful shots to take 8-5 lead. Sato was not making Saina's life any easy as she clawed back with some nice shuttle play to make it 8-10.

Despite a tough battle between the two shuttlers in the third game of the second round, Saina held her nerve to win the game 21-16 to reach the quarterfinals. 

This 21-18, 9-21, 21-16 win will also give Saina huge confidence to take on other shuttlers in the Hong Kong Open. 

Prannoy lost to Chong Wei Feng in a three-game affair. The Indian shuttler had started brilliantly, winning the first game 21-15, but Feng looked in thunderous form midway into the second game, and he carried that shuttle display in the third game to clinch the match 15-21, 21-11, 21-15.

However, Sameer Verma did the opposite of Prannoy. Verma lost the opening game, but won the next two to clinch the match 19-21, 21-15, 21-11. It was his strong character, which helped him reach the quarterfinals of the competition. Verma will now meet Feng on Friday.

Jayaram defeated Huang Yuxiang in straight games, 21-18, 21-19. 

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