India’s PV Sindhu, silver medallist at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, overcame rustiness before reaching the last 16 of the BWF World Championships in Basel on Wednesday.
The runner-up at the last two World Championships beat Pai Yu-Po of Chinese Taipei 21-14, 21-15 to set up a third-round clash with the USA’s Zhang Beiwen.
Saina Nehwal also made it through to the last 16, cruising past Dutch shuttler Soraya de Visch Eijbergen in straight games.
Slow to start
Having received a first-round bye, Sindhu stepped up the pace in the first half of the opening game, winning four straight points to go 11-7 up at the mid-game interval.
Though Pai tried to fight back, the fifth seed took the first game 21-14 in just under 20 minutes.
Sindhu started the second game strongly, racing out into a quick 6-1 lead.
But some poor shot-making – and some smart moves from Pai – forced Sindhu deep into the court as the shuttler from Chinese Taipei took a slender one-point lead into the interval.
The break seemed to do the Indian good as she began to dominate again, quickly going 18-13 up before closing out the match.
This was her 17th victory at the BWF World Championships, putting her level with three-time champ Carolina Marin, but the honour she wants most is that elusive first global title.
Saina Nehwal had an easier time of it in her opening match in Basel.
The 2015 finalist and 2017 bronze medallist was too strong for Soraya de Visch Eijbergen, winning 21-10, 21-11 in just 33 minutes.
Next up for the eighth seed is a much tougher test in the shape of Denmark’s European Games champion Mia Blichfeldt.