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Olympics: Shuttlers, tennis stars enliven day for India

Star shuttlers Saina Nehwal, P.V. Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth were the lone bright spots along with the tennis duo of Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna as India endured another dismal day at the ongoing Rio Olympics here.

The Indian men’s hockey team also had something to cheer about as they reached the quarter-finals after a gap of 36 years despite being beaten 1-2 by the Netherlands.

Sania and Bopanna started their campaign in the mixed doubles category on a positive note with a straight sets victory over Samantha Stosur and Jonathan Peers of Australia here on Thursday.

The Indian pair overcame a strong challenge from their Australian opponents in the first set to carve out a 7-5,6-4 victory in one one hour and 13 minutes and book their places in the quarter-finals at the Olympic Tennis Centre.

At the badminton courts, Saina, Sindhu and Srikanth also won their respective opening matches in the women’s singles event. 

But there was disappointment in store for Indian fans in most of the other events with archers Deepika Kumari and Laishram Bombayla Devi crashing out of the women’s individual event while the men’s hockey team went down fighting to the Netherlands.

But Saina Sindhu and Srikanth provided some relief to the fans by winning their opening matches albeit in contrasting styles.

Srikanth started his Olympic campaign in superb fashion, breezing past Lino Muzon of Mexico in straight games in the opening match of Group H in the men’s singles event.

The only Indian to qualify in the men’s singles event, Srikanth won 21-11, 21-17 in 41 minutes at the Pavilion 4 of Rio Centrio here.

Sindhu started her campaign in style by thrashing Hungarian Laura Sarosi in straight games in her Group M match. The World No. 10 took just 27 minutes to wrap up the match 21-8, 21-9 against the No. 64.

Placed in Group C, Saina then overcame some stiff resistance from local favourite Vicente Lohaynny 21-17, 21-17 to emerge successful in her opening encounter.

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