Home favourite Kidambi Srikanth saw the defence of his Badminton World Federation (BWF) India Open title come to a premature end as he suffered a first-round defeat at the hands of familiar foe Tian Houwei at the Siri Fort Sports Complex in New Delhi.
Srikanth, whose last BWF World Superseries crown came in India’s capital a year ago, suffered a sixth loss in seven matches against his Chinese opponent, who triumphed 21-13, 17-21, 24-22.
The Indian made a bold comeback at the end with five straight points but Tian managed to hold on and get himself across the line.
Seventh seed Tian will next take on Germany’s Marc Zwiebler, who prevailed 21-12, 13-21, 21-19 in a tight match over Srikanth’s compatriot Ajay Jayaram.
Also reaching the men’s singles second round were Indonesian qualifier Sony Dwi Kuncoro, a 22-20, 21-13 winner at the expense of India’s B. Sai Praneeth, and Hong Kong’s Wei Nan, thanks to a 16-21, 21-15, 21-18 success against Thailand’s Boonsak Ponsana.
Last year’s runner-up Viktor Axelsen of Denmark secured his safe passage, the fifth seed beating Hong Kong’s Hu Yun 21-23, 21-14, 21-5.
Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi nearly stumbled in the first round of the women’s singles but came from a game behind to overcome the United States’ Iris Wang 12-21, 21-5, 21-19
Yamaguchi next faces Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu-ying, who cruised past Hong Kong’s Yip Pui Yin 22-20 21-15.
All the favoured pairs progressed in the men’s doubles, including defending champions Chai Biao and Hong Wei of China, who defeated Denmark’s Kim Astrup and Anders Ska Rasmussen 21-19, 18-21, 21-18.
Second seeds Kim Gi Jung and Kim Sa Rang advanced with a 21-12, 23-21 victory against Malaysia’s Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong.
China’s Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan, the world junior champions, upset women’s doubles number seven seeds Lee So Hee and Chang Ye Na from South Korea by winning 14-21, 25-23, 21-13.
They then went on to win their respective mixed doubles matches as Chen combined with Wang Yilyu to down fourth seeds Chris Adcock and wife Gabrielle of England 11-21, 21-17, 21-13.
Jia joined forces with compatriot Zhang Wen to beat South Korea’s Kim Gi Jung and Shin Seung Chan 22-20, 13-21, 21-15.
Action in New Delhi is due to continue tomorrow.