Ashmita Chaliha is part of the talented bunch aspiring to be the torch-bearer of India’s women badminton after P.V. Sindhu.
After the pandemic ruined the calendar for almost two seasons, Ashmita took the first available opportunity of 2022 to serve a reminder by knocking out fifth-seeded Russian Evgeniya Kosetskaya from the $400,000 India Open here.
Before the bigger names in all sections won as expected on the opening day, the left-hander from Guwahati saved three game-points for a 24-22, 21-14 victory over Kosetskaya, the 2018 European championship runner-up to former World and Olympic champion Carolina Marin.
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Ashmita, the fourth highest-ranked Indian in the world list at 84, held a 19-16 lead in the first game before the Russian clawed back. Undeterred, Ashmita continued to attack and saved three game points from 19-20. Eventually, she converted her first game point. In the second, it was Ashmita all the way.
By taking out the Russian, Ashmita ensured Sindhu doesn’t have to face a seeded player until the semifinals. Ashmita will have to get past the unseeded French girl Yaelle Hoyaux in order to book a meeting with Sindhu.
Sindhu took just 27 minutes to beat K. Sri Krishna Priya. Second-seeded Thai Busanan Ongbambrungphan also advanced to the second round after her opponent, Canada’s Wen Yu Zhang, withdrew.
In the midst of one-sided encounters, that saw K. Srikanth and Sameer Verma stay on course for their third-round meeting, it appeared as though World champion Loh Kean Yew dropped the opening game only to get some extra on-court time.
Facing Xiaodong Sheng, a Canadian of Chinese origin, Yew changed gears after the opening game and raced away with the match.
Men: K. Srikanth bt Siril Verma 21-17, 21-10; Sameer Verma bt Saurabh Verma 21-7, 21-7; Loh Kean Yew (Sin) bt Xiaodong Sheng (Can) 16-21, 21-4, 21-13.
Doubles: Mohammad Ahsan & Hendra Setiawan (Ina) bt Prem Singh Chouhan & Rajesh Verma 21-18, 21-10; M.R. Arjun & Dhruv Kapila bt Nur Mohammad Azriyn Ayub Azriyn & Lim Khim Wah (Mas) 18-21, 21-17, 21-15.
Women: P.V. Sindhu bt K. Sri Krishna Priya 21-5, 21-16; Ira Sharma bt Doha Hany (Egy) 21-10, 21-11; Ashmita Chaliha bt Evgeniya Kosetskaya (Rus) 24-22, 21-16.
Doubles: Treesa Jolly & Gayatri Gopi Chand bt Anastasiya Prozorova & Valeriya Rudakova (Ukr) 21-12, 21-10.
Mixed doubles: Dhruv Kapila & N. Sikki Reddy bt Chirag Arora & Nishu Rapria 21-11. 21-11; Chen Tang Jie & Peck Yen Wei (Mas) bt M.R. Arjun & Treesa Jolly 21-11, 21-6; Venkat Gaurav Prasad & Juhi Dewangan bt Aman Arora & Rageshri Garg 21-9, 21-8.