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You may have played against a training partner on all kinds of courts and almost every day for a decade but there is just something special about the Yonex All England Open. That was the situation on the first morning of badminton’s greatest show as India’s men’s singles contenders got underway with an all-India clash between good friends Sai Praneeth B and HS Prannoy. Sameer Verma and seventh-seed Srikanth Kidambi are the other Indian players looking to mount a challenge in Birmingham but Sai Praneeth and HS Prannoy got the ball rolling, with the former coming out on top 21-19 21-19 in a predictably tight match against his training partner. “As you could see the game was really tough because we’ve played together every day for ten years, so we both know each other’s games really well,” commented Sai Praneeth after coming off court. “So it was obvious the match was going to be tough. I think both of us were prepared for a long match and I’m just happy I was on the winning side. “It’s such a big tournament the All England Open and I thought when I saw the draw ‘we are both travelling so far and then just playing each other!’ “He knows my weaknesses, I know his weaknesses and his strong points - he’s always ready because he knows where I’m strong and I know where he plays his shots regularly. “Anywhere you play your friend it’s always sad, but I am happy to win.” The match between the two friends was incredibly tight, never more than four points apart, but Sai Praneeth delivered in five game points to make it through to face Hong Kong’s NG Ka Long Angus in the next round. The Hong Kong shuttler produced an upset on morning one by beating eighth seed Indonesian Anthony Sinisuka Ginting in three sets – Sai Praneeth though is targeting another win. “The All England is one of the tournaments where I feel like I’m playing in a very big tournament,” he continued. “It’s like in the World Championships. It’s a really prestigious tournament and everyone wants to win it. “I’ve really been looking forward to the All England. It’s always been a prestigious tournament so it’s great to come here and everyone wants to win it.”
Sung Ji Hyun defeats PV Sindhu in day one shockSung was drawn against Olympic, World and Commonwealth Games silver medallist PV Sindhu in the first round of the women’s singles schedule but managed to overcome the challenge 21-16 20-22 21-18 in a lung-busting encounter. Sindhu is a crowd favourite in Birmingham following her semi-final appearance last year and was seeded fifth, but the Indian player could do nothing as Sung delivered a superb first game. Sindhu rallied in the second to come from 18-14 down but couldn’t repeat that hugely impressive trick in the third game, threatening a comeback at 20-13 down with five straight points but falling just short. “When I first saw the All England tournament schedule I saw who the opponent was and that led me to do some game analysis,” commented Jung, after coming off court. “I obviously had some difficulties in the second set but then I managed to pull it off so I’m very grateful about that! “I’ve played against Sindhu many times and it’s really down to how well we perform on the day. “But I managed to maximise my conditions for the All England Open and that was really shown today. “It feels good, and I’m very grateful to win!” The 81-minute crowd-pleaser between the two rivals saw world No.10 Sung overcome a player ranked four places higher than her in the world, but maybe shouldn’t surprise us given that the two opponents have alternated victories in their last six matches. Former world No.2 Sung will take on Cheung Ngan Yi in the next round, with the Chinese player defeating Russia’s Evgeniya Kosetskaya 21-15 21-9. Sung though, is fresh from a giant-killing and will take some stopping.
- Kidambi Srikanth marches into second round after a dominating win over France's Brice Leverdez in 30 minutes. (21-13, 21-11)
- Ashwini Ponnappa/Sikki Reddy goes down to higher ranked Japanese pair of Shiho Tanaka/Koharu Yonemoto (21-16, 26-28, 16-21) in an hour and 17 minutes to bow out of women's doubles.
- Saina Nehwal defeated Scotland’s Kristy Gilmour 21-17, 21-18 in just 35 minutes.