Up against her idol for the second time in career, 20-year-old Malvika played positively and went into the break with 11-9 advantage while maintaining a marginal 18-16 lead in the first game. As luck would have it, two close calls went against Malvika and Saina displayed some classy strokes in the dying stage to score five successive points on her way to win the 17-minute first game 21-18.
Malvika took time to adjust to the drift in the second game and Saina scored eight unanswered points to take a huge 10-3 advantage. She went into the break with an 11-6 lead. Malvika tried to make a comeback, but the experienced Saina closed the second game with a seven-point cushion, winning 21-14.
The London Olympics bronze medalist took 34 minutes to get past her young opponent and posted her first victory after losing in the opening round of three consecutive tournaments.
In January, Malvika became the second Indian to defeat Saina since 2007.
Malvika’s coach Sanjay Mishra said, “It’s always tough to play against a senior, experienced player. But Malvika has to work very hard from now on.”
In a chat with TOI, Malvika said, “I have never played at this venue and as I was getting adjusted to the drift, my shuttle was landing out. I think my limited experience playing in the drift went against me.”
Mithun, Ashmita register stunning wins
Mithun Manjunath and Ashmita Chaliha notched up stunning wins over their illustrious rivals to hog the limelight on the second day of the Singapore Open.
While Mithun scored a 21-17, 15-21, 21-18 win over compatriot Kidambi Srikanth in men’s singles, Ashmita shocked Thailand’s world No. 12 Busanan Ongbamrungphan 21-16, 21-11 in women’s singles.
PV Sindhu and HS Prannoy also progressed to the second round.
Sindhu beat Belgium world No. 36 Lianne Tan 21-15, 21-11 while Prannoy saw off Thailand’s Sitthikom Thammasin 21-13, 21-16.