Saina Nehwal lost to Sayaka Takahashi of Japan in her first round encounter at the Denmark Open, going down 15-21, 21-23 in just 37 minutes to crash out of the competition on Wednesday.
This was her third straight loss in the first round of a tournament after she was defeated in the first round of the China Open and Korea Open as well. It was also Nehwal's second successive loss to Takahashi. The duo last met in the Thailand Open, where the latter prevailed in three games.
Saina began on a positive note, as she gave a tough fight to the Japanese upfront. However, Takahashi picked up the pace soon after and took an 11-8 lead after the scoreboard had read 7-7. She raced away to 20-13, and though Nehwal managed to save two game points, she was unable to clinch the game.
There was little fight in the second game, as Takahashi had a 15-10 lead, and despite best efforts from the Indian, the Japanese wrapped up the match.
Another disappointment awaited the Indians as Kidambi Srikanth too crashed out in what was his comeback tournament. Having skipped the Korea and the China Open due to a knee injury, Srikanth was unable to produce a favourable result, as he went down to Denmark's Anders Antonsen 14-21, 18-21 in 43 minutes.
However, there was something to cheer about earlier in the day for the Indians as Sameer Verma and the mixed doubles pairing of Pranaav Chopra and Sikki Reddy won their respective first-round games. While Sikki-Chopra beat the German duo of Marvin Seidel and Linda Efler 21-16, 21-11, Verma thrashed Japan's Kanta Tsuneyama 21-11, 21-11 in less than 30 minutes.
Later in the day, another disappointment awaited the Indians as the other mixed doubles pair of Ashwini Ponappa and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy did not take the court and gave their Chinese opponents a walkover, thus crashing out of the Denmark Open in the process.
The only Indians in the fray now are Verma, Chopra-Sikki, PV Sindhu, Sai Praneeth and Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty. However, as per reports, Rankireddy and Ponnappa gave a walkover as the former was down with fever. It remains to be seen whether or not Rankireddy is able to take the court in men's doubles alongside Chirag.