Rupesh-Sanave win; curtains for Chetan Anand, Jwala-Ashwini
Dev S Sukumar. Birmingham
March 10: Saina Nehwal was troubled more by the cold than her first round opponent as she dismissed Dutchwoman Judith Meulendijks in straight games at the All England Open Badminton Championships at the NIA on Wednesday. Men’s doubles pair Rupesh Kumar and Sanave Thomas also provided some cheer for the Indians with a win over Danish pair Mads Conrads-Petersen / Mads Pieter Kolding 21-15 21-19. However, national champion Chetan Anand and the women’s doubles team of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa fell in the first round, 21-16 21-19 to an Indonesian pair.
Saina’s match was delayed by over an hour, and she had to stretch her warm-up routine given the cold conditions. The NIA is a huge, cavernous hall, and on Tuesday was so cold that some players shivered even though they were wrapped up in jackets. Yesterday the heating was turned up, but the cold was still a problem. “No problems, except the cold,” said Saina, as she came away from the first round match. “I’m feeling fine… I had to be careful about the cold because if you aren’t warmed up properly your muscles might get stiff.”
The match provided a good workout for the world No.7. She made the play without being too experimentative; she fired in the smashes, played the dribbles, and was precise with her clears and tosses, making the tall Dutchwoman run around the court. The 21-18 21-11 result gives her a second round appointment with Bae Seung Hee of Korea.
Chetan Anand was outclassed by world No.1 Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia 21-15 21-16. The Indian displayed his bag of tricks — his wristly half-smashes, caressed drops and dribbles, but it was of no avail against an opponent as quick as Lee. The Malaysian’s pace left the Indian befuddled after the first few points, while his sudden smashes from off-position frequently caught Chetan stranded.
“He surprised me with that smash,” Chetan acknowledged. “He’s very quick.”
Jwala and Ashwini were disappointing against Shendy Puspa Irawati and Nitya Krishinda Maheswari of Indonesia. Although the Indonesians are ranked world no.8, the Indians had only themselves to blame for a sub-par performance. In the second game they clambered from 11-15 down to lead 16-15, but they were just not tight enough on the day.