Japan's Ai Goto has come a long way since losing three times to Saina Nehwal. The gritty Japanese beat the World number four by landing a 21-17, 21-19 knockout punch in the opening round of the $200,000 India Open Super Series badminton championship at the Siri Fort Sports Complex here on Wednesday.
The 33-minute battle saw Goto win the first game in 12 minutes after breaking away from 10-all. He then snatched the match by winning the last five points in a flash. Goto, who had never taken a game off Saina since 2008, ended the Indian interest in the ladies singles by punishing the uncharacteristically erratic favourite.
On the brighter side, Guru Sai Dutt produced the best performance of his budding international career by stunning World number six Boonsak Ponsana, seeded four, 22-20, 18-21, 21-19. On a day when the Indian challengers fell in a heap in all five sections, P. Kashyap was the only other Indian left in the singles.
In fact, in the 63-minute thriller, Guru Sai took the first game by saving three-game points. After narrowly losing the second, Gurusai broke away from five-all in the decider, but just about managed to hang in after a determined Ponsana saved five match-points from 14-20.
The results (first round, involving Indians, prefix denotes seeding):
Men's singles: 1-Lee Chong Wie (Mas) bt Ajay Jayaram 21-19, 21-18; Sourabh Verma bt Sony Dwi Kuncoro (Ina) 21-18, 21-19; Guru Sai Dutt bt 4-Boonsak Ponsana (Tha) 22-20, 18-21, 21-19; Wing Ki Wong (Hkg) bt B. Sai Praneeth 21-19, 21-12; Sho Sasaki (Jpn) bt Anand Pawar 19-21, 21-17, 21-12; Wan Ho Shon (Kor) bt H. S. Prannoy 21-14, 21-12.
6-Sung Hwan Park (Kor) bt Arvind Bhat 21-14, 21-16; P. Kashyap bt Michal Matejka (Svk) 21-7, 21-15; 2-Taufik Hidayat (Ina) bt Anup Sridhar 21-13, 21-5.
Women's singles: Ai Goto (Jpn) bt 1-Saina Nehwal 21-17, 21-19; 4-Pui Yin Yip (Hkg) bt Aditi Mutatkar 21-14, 21-8; Aprilla Yuswandari (Ina) bt Trupti Murgunde 21-12, 21-5; 8-Salakjit Ponsana (Tha) bt P. V. Sindhu 21-19, 22-20; Jianyuan Chen (Sin) bt Sayali Gokhale 23-21, 15-21, 21-19.
Men's doubles: Patipat Chalardchaleam and Nipitphon Puangpuapech (Tha) bt Akshay Dewalkar and Arun Vishnu 21-18, 21-17; Yohanes Rendy Sugiarto and Afiat Yuris Wirawan (Ina) bt Pranav Chopra and Tarun Kona 21-17, 21-16; Peng Soon Chan and Wee Kiong Tan (Mas) bt S. Sanjeeth and Jagdish Yadav 21-7, 21-17; Hirobe Yoshiteru and Kenta Kazuno (Jpn) bt Manish Gupta and Gaurav Venkat 21-6, 21-9.
Mohd Zakry Abdul Latif and Thein How Hoon (Mas) bt Utsav Mishra and Ravinder Singh 21-9, 21-17; Ki Jung Kim and Sa Rang Kim (Kor) bt S. D. S. Krishna and Vineeth Manuel 21-10, 21-17.
Women's doubles: Ye Na Jang and Min Seo Kim (Kor) bt Meenakshi Nair and Mohita Sahdev 21-10, 21-13; Eiu Hui Chin and Pei Tty Wong (Mas) bt P. C. Thulasi and Sikki Reddy 21-7, 21-11; Kyung Eun Jung and Ha Na Kim (Kor) bt Aparna Balan and Prajakta Sawant 21-13, 21-9; Sook Chin chong and Liu Ying Goh bt Sanyogita Ghorpade and Saili Rane 19-21, 21-13, 21-12.
Mixed doubles: 8-Ikeda Shintaro and Shiota Reiko (Jpn) bt Arun Vishnu and Aparna Balan 21-18, 17-21, 21-14; Akshay Dewalkar and Pradnya Gadre bt Hirata Noriyashu and Miyuki Maeda (Jpn) 21-17, 21-17; 5-Peng Soon Chan and Liu Ying Goh (Mas) bt Tarun Kona and Ashwini Ponnappa 23-21, 21-10; Gun Woo Cho and Min Seo Kim (Kor) bt Jishnu Sanyal and P. Jyotshna 21-12, 21-14; Muhammad Rijal and Debby Susanto (Ina) bt Gaurav Venkat and Juhi Dewangan 21-6, 21-11; Pranav Chopra and Prajakta Sawant bt Kenta Kazuno and Ayaka Takahashi (Jpn) 21-14, 21-18; Wai Hong Wong and Hoi Wah Chau (Hkg) bt Prem Singh and Niharika Saini 21-7, 21-9.