Defending champion Kidambi Srikanth's campaign ended with a narrow opening-round loss but Olympic silver medallist PV Sindhu eked out a thrilling win to progress to the women's singles pre-quarterfinals of the USD 1,250,000 Indonesia Open BWF World Tour Super 1000 tournament in Jakarta on Wednesday.
Former World No 1 Srikanth suffered his second successive loss to in-form Japanese Kento Momota, ranked 11th, in two weeks. The Indian lost 21-12 14-21 15-21 in the opening match that lasted exactly an hour at the Istora Gelora Bung Karno.
Momota had ended Srikanth's campaign at Malaysia Open last week and even though the Indian failed to avenge the loss, it was a far superior performance by the 25-year-old fourth seed.
Overall, it was Srikanth's seventh loss to the former world no 2 Momota, who has been in impressive form since coming back from a one-year ban due to illegal gambling.
However, Sindhu brought some smiles back in the Indian camp after seeing off Thailand's Pornpawee Chochuwong 21-15 19-21 21-13, setting up a clash with Japan's Aya Ohori on the eve of her 23rd birthday on Thursday.
Earlier, young Vaishnavi Reddy Jakka went down 12-21 10-21 to Denmark's Line Hojmark Kjaersfeldt.
The men's doubles pair of Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy stretched the world no 2 Chinese pair of Liu Cheng and Zhang Nan to three games before surrendering 21-15 15-21 17-21 to the third seeded combo.
In mixed doubles, Pranaav Jerry Chopra and N Sikki Reddy lost 12-21 14-21 to fourth seeded pair of Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong of China.
In the women's singles match, Sindhu was asked some serious questions by the 20-year-old Pornpawee, as she grabbed a slender 11-10 lead at the first interval.
The Indian seemed to struggle with her timing initially but two cross court smash and a misjudgement at backline by her opponent helped Sindhu to lead 14-13.
Sindhu showed great defence and seemed to have stepped up her pace as she soon moved to 19-14 and brought up five game point chances after attacking her opponent's back hand. A disguised shot ended the opening game in Sindhu's favour.
Sindhu seemed to struggle with the length of her strokes as she hit long and short to allow Pornpawee control the second game early on. The Thai girl moved to a 7-2 lead but Sindhu recovered well to first claw back at 10-10 with six straight points and then entered the interval with a one-point advantage when the Thai hit the net.
Pornpawee turned the table by making it 15-13 before moving to 19-16 when Sindhu found the net. But the Thai blew the advantage as the Indian gained three straight points, including a good-looking smash, to claw back at 19-19.
A superb rally ensued next, which left Sindhu sprawled on the court as it was game point advantage for Pornpawee. The Indian then hit the net and the Thai shuttler was back in the contest.
The duo split the initial 10 points in the decider before Sindhu managed to open up a 8-5 lead. The Indian held a four-point advantage after he unleashed a straight smash to enter the breather.
Sindhu continued to use her experience to outwit the Thai shuttler and won a net duel to make it 18-11. Two wide shots and it was the eight match points for Sindhu. Pornpawee saved one before Sindhu unleashed another smash to seal the contest.
Earlier, Srikanth, who was beaten in straight games by Momota in Kuala Lumpur last week, came out with all guns blazing and moved to a 19-10 lead and then grabbed 10 game points with a smash. Momota saved two game points before hitting the net as Srikanth earned the bragging rights.
In the second game, Momota moved to a 3-0 lead early on before a patient Srikanth clawed back at 5-5 with a superb stroke at the net. Despite some stiff resistance from the Indian, the left-handed Japanese managed to enter the break with a slender 11-9 lead after producing a powerful smash on his opponent's backhand.
A few mistimed strokes from Srikanth and the game slipped away as he lagged 11-17 before Momota held seven game points and roared back into the contest when Srikanth again found the net.
In the decider, Momota produced some razor-sharp returns to move to a 8-5 lead. A brilliant adjustment at the net gave Momota another point as he moved to a 11-6 lead.
After the breather, Srikanth cut down the deficit to 10-12 and then 14-16. But Momota was unstoppable as he soon grabbed five match points and converted it without further ado.