India have had a mixed start to the Korea Open with PV Sindhu and Ajay Jayaram coming off with thumping win against former world champion, Ratchanok Intanon and sixth seed Viktor Axelsen in the first round of the competition respectively. However, Parupalli Kashyap, Kidambi Srikanth and HS Prannoy bit the dust on the first day of the Korea Open.
In the men's singles, eighth seed Kashyap, who lost his first round encounter against unseeded Wei Nan, was the first Indian player to exit the competition. Kashyap looked comfortable initially, winning the first set, but the Hong Kong shuttler came back strongly and won the second and third sets to send the Indian packing. The final score read 17-21, 21-16, 21-18.
The bad news did not end there for India as Srikanth, who was expected to come off with an easy win against Tian Houwei, won the first set, but Houwei made a surprising comeback in the second and third set. Srikanth was outplayed in the last two sets by Houwei, who won the match 12-21, 21-13 and 21-17. Also Prannoy lost his game against Chou Tien Chen 18-21, 21-19 and 21-17.
If India's Srikanth exit was an upset, Denmark's Axelsen loss against India's Ajay Jayaram was a massive upset for the Dane, who lost the match in straight sets 21-15 and 21-15. This has to go down as one of the biggest victories for Jayaram in his career so far.
However, the biggest highlight of the day remains Sindhu's victory over Intanon with the score reading 21-19, 21-23, 21-13. Very few had given Sindhu a chance of winning the match, as Intanon had crushed the young Indian in her last three meetings.
However, Sindhu did not look at her past records. Right from the start, Sindhu, who is India's major hope in the Korea Open after Saina Nehwal decided to skip the tournament, came up with a terrific performance and played to her strengths.
The match had it all -- powerful smashes down the line, net play, overhead and body shots – to entertain the crowd. As the scoreline suggests, the game was closely fought and especially in the second set, where Intanon showed her skills to win 23-21.
But, the second set loss only encouraged Sindhu to come up with an even more dominant performance, as the Indian shuttler played some brilliant shots, which left the third seed befuddled.
This first round victory should do Sindhu's confidence a world of good, as she is expected to meet the winner of the Sayaka Takashi-Yip Pui Yin clash in the next round. If Sindhu maintains a similar level of performance, other top shuttlers will have their work cut out against the unseeded Indian.