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Sindhu, Srikanth advance in Paris

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Paris, March 6: A determined PV Sindhu advanced to the women’s singles second round after grinding out a three-game win over Canada’s Michelle Li at French Open Super 750 badminton tournament here on Wednesday.
Sindhu, a double Olympic medallist, faced stiff competition from former world no. 8 Li but she managed to eke out a come-from-behind 20-22 22-20 21-19 win in a riveting opening round match that lasted an hour and 20 minutes at the Arena Porte de la Chapelle here.
Kidambi Srikanth too progressed to the men’s singles second round with a stunning win over Chinese Taipei’s Chou Tien Chen but HS Prannoy fell short to make an early exit.
The world No. 24 Srikanth, who is racing against time to qualify for the Paris Olympics, outwitted 14th-ranked Chen 21-15, 20-22, 21-8 in a 66-minute opening round match for his third win over the Taiwanese shuttler in seven meetings.
In the next round, the 2021 world championships silver medallist Srikanth will fight it out against China’s world No. 17 Lu Guang Zu, who ended the campaign of Prannoy with a fine 21-17, 21-17 win at the adjacent court.
For Sindhu, who is playing only her second tournament since returning from a knee injury that she suffered in October last year in the same event, it was her 10th win over Li in 13 meetings.
For most part of the match, Sindhu, who had lost her most recent meeting to Li at the Thailand Open in May last year, was still searching for her ‘A’ game as she kept fighting.
Li’s attack worked for most part of the first half of the match with good shot quality at the mid court region. But Sindhu slowly grew in confidence as she fought from 13-17 down after losing the opening game to pocket the second game.
The Indian made a good start in the decider as her angled returns and smashes helped her to gain a 8-6 lead before she took 11-7 advantage at interval.
Sindhu looked in flow as she moved to 13-9 but Li again produced some tight cross-court net shots as she clawed back to 13-13 after the Indian went long.
With unforced errors from both the shuttlers, the scoreline read 17-17. A backhand kill on the body took Li to 18-17 but a cross-court return kept Sindhu afloat.
Li then floated long as Sindhu was two points sway. The Indian then grabbed two match points. While Li saved one with a perfect return, she went wide next as Sindhu let out a cry.
Srikanth stuns Chen
Srikanth was by far the better player as he roared back from 5-7, winning 14 off the next 17 points to earn the bragging rights.
However, Chen produced a rearguard in the second game and managed to keep his nose ahead in time to take the match to the decider after a gruelling battle of nerves.
After the change of sides, Srikanth was back in his element as from 7-5, the Indian pocketed nine straight points to leave Chen far behind.
The Taiwanese managed three points before the Indian banged the door on his face with the remaining five points. (PTI)

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