Syed Modi GP: Top seeds Saina, Hidayat fall flat at first hurdle

Lucknow, Dec 19 (IANS) It was a bad day in office for top seeds as Saina Nehwal and Taufik Hidayat lost in the first round of the Syed Modi International India Grand Prix Gold badminton event here Wednesday.

In the biggest disappointment of the day, Indian star shuttler and top seed Saina "retired" in controversial circumstances against Russian Ksenia Polikarpova when the score read 17-21, 18-20 (retired).

Saina said she retired at match point due to knee problems.

"My physio had told me that I should not put much pressure on my knee. I was playing well but suddenly I felt some problem in my knee, so I decided to quit," said Saina.

However, top sources in the Badminton Association of India (BAI) told IANS that she already had advance flight bookings to go back to Hyderabad Wednesday afternoon, which is why she asked BAI to reschedule her match earlier from 2.30 p.m. to 12.20 p.m.

Saina retired and immediately flew back to her home in Hyderabad.

India's 18-year-old Pratul Joshi caused the biggest upset of the tournament after he beat former Olympic, World and defending champion and top seed Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia 21-17, 21-12 in the first round of the men's singles. However, Joshi lost his second round match against another Indonesian Siswanto 18-21, 21-16, 20-22.

Last year's quarterfinalist Sourabh Verma, seeded six, lost to Soon Huat Goh of Malaysia 19-21, 14-21.

Eighth seed and Olympian Niluka Karunaratne of Sri Lanka also went down to Sung Min Park of South Korea 20-22, 21-15, 14-21.

Local hope and second seeds PV Sindhu and Parupalli Kashyap advanced to the pre-quarterfinals.

Sindhu, 18, advanced to the Round of 16 beating Malaysian Li Lian Yang 21-6, 21-12 in 22 minutes. She next faces Victoria Na of Australia.

Kashyap beat Vladimir Malkov in a thriller. The second seed won 24-22, 16-21, 21-18 in 67 minutes.

In the first round, he beat Young Woong Ha of South Korea 21-18, 21-9. Kashyap next plays Parinyawat Thongnuam of Thailand.

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