New Delhi, Jun 6: Top seed Saina Nehwal survived a scare from little-known local player Nichaon Jindapon before prevailing in three games in the opening round of the Thailand Open Grand Prix Gold in Bangkok on Wednesday.
The world number five Indian beat Jindapon 21-13, 16-21, 21-15 in a 59-minute women's singles match at the Cu Sport Complex. She will next take on China's Li Han in the second round on Thursday.
One of the medal prospects at the London Olympics, Saina started off well as she broke off from 6-6 and didn't give any chance to her rival to recover. With the Thai using her smashes to good effect, Saina caught her at the nets and pocketed the first game.
In the second game, Saina opened up a 8-4 lead but Jindapon clawed back to level at 11-11. From 17-16, the world number 53 Thai reeled off four straight points to win the second game and bounce back into the match.
In the decider, both the shuttlers were locked in a grim battle till 12-12 before Saina broke off and held her forte till the end.
In the men's singles, young shuttler Sameer Verma created an upset, defeating 11th seeded Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk of Thailand 21-10 22-20 to reach the second round.
Among other Indians, K Srikanth beat Marius Myhre 14-21, 21-12, 21-7, 12th seeded Sourabh Varma thrashed Sukamta Evert 21-11, 21-12, Sai Praneeth B saw off Wisnu Yuli Prasetyo 15-21, 25-23, 21-17.
However, Anand Pawar failed to cross the first hurdle and suffered a 21-15, 18-21, 19-21 loss to ninth seed Brice Leverdez, while 14th seed RMV Gurusaidutt also crashed out with a 21-18, 14-21, 13-21 loss to Soon Huat Goh.
In the mixed doubles competition, Jian Guo Ong and Yin Loo Lim sent packing the Indian combo of Arun Vishnu and Aparna Balan 21-14, 21-13.