India Open: Ashmita Chaliha upsets 5th seed Evgeniya Kosetskaya, PV Sindhu sails into 2nd round

India Open: Ashmita Chaliha upsets 5th seed Evgeniya Kosetskaya in round one to move forward (@BAI Photo)

Young shuttler Ashmita Chaliha pulled off one of the most stunning upsets in her career so far as she defeated fifth seed and world No 28 Evgeniya Kosetskaya in straight games, while PV Sindhu also reached the women’s singles 2nd round of the India Open.

Unseeded Chaliha took just 31 minutes to get the better world number 28 Russian 24-22, 21-16, while double Olympic medallist Sindhu cruised past compatriot Sri Krishna Priya Kudaravalli 21-5, 21-16 in her opening round. However, it was curtains for Chirag Sen as he lost 8-21, 7-21 to Soong Joo Ven of Malaysia in the men’s singles opening round.

In her opener, Chaliha began strongly by employing her down-the-line smashes to open up an 11-5 lead, looking comfortable against the tall Russian. However, the Indian then made a lot of errors after the break and Kosetsyaka pounced on the opportunity to first level the score at 14-14 and then again fought back from 16-19 to earn her first game point.

But the girl from Guwahati, who had lost to the Russian in their earlier encounter back in 2019, managed to regroup to force her opponent to make an unforced error and then saved two more game points before clinching the opener with a smash.

The second game followed a similar trajectory as Chaliha opened up an 11-4 lead, only for the Russian to close in to 19-16. However, the Indian was more in control this time around and kept her cool under pressure to finish off the match in 31 minutes.

“I haven’t played a lot of matches in the last few years. So, I was nervous and that affected me midway in the opening game. But once I won the first game, I was more confident and so I was relaxed in the second game,” Chaliha said after the match.

“It is a big event and I was looking forward to playing the Russian but I played safe and it helped to pull out the match.

“This was one of my biggest wins. I played her before in I had lost to her in straight games so it was my biggest win,” she told reporters in a virtual press conference.

Chaliha will now face France’s Yaelle Hoyaux, who defeated India’s Riya Mookerjee 14-21, 13-21. Sindhu will next play the winner of the match between Egypt’s Hany Doha and India’s Ira Sharma.

In the other matches of the opening session, the mixed doubles pair of K Sai Prateekh and Gayatri Gopichand defeated Ishaan Bhatnagar and Tanisha Castro 21-16, 16-21, 21-17.

The men’s doubles top seeds Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan of Indonesia got their campaign off to a winning start by beating India’s Prem Singh Chouhan and Rajesh Verma 21-18, 21-10