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Orleans Masters: Saina, Ira reach quarters (ld)

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Orleans (France), March 25 (IANS) Saina Nehwal beat France’s Marie Batomene 18-21, 21-15, 21-10 to reach the women’s singles quarterfinals of the Orleans Masters Super 1000 tournament on Thursday.

Ira Sharma, who was promoted to the main draw from the qualification, also reached the quarterfinals after beating Bulgaria’s Mariya Mitsova 21-18, 21-13.

Saina, seeded fourth in the tournament, struggled in the first game against Batomene, ranked 65th in the world. The pair went toe-to-toe for much of the game before Batomene won three consecutive points from 17-17 to reach game point.

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However, Saina gained control of the match in the subsequent games, winning three consecutive points to start off the second game and going into the interval with a 11-6 lead. She maintained a six-point lead for much of the game, taking it 21-15.

Saina then won four consecutive points from 17-10 to sail into the quarterfinals. The 2012 London Olympics bronze medallist now faces either Iris Wang of the US or France’s Yaelle Hoyaux in the quarterfinal.

Ira, meanwhile, secured her second win over higher-ranked opposition in Orleans. Ranked 162, 21-year-old Ira had defeated 110th ranked LeOnice Huet in the first round before her win over the 71st ranked Mitsova.

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Ira did well to come back from a 4-9 deficit in the first game, fighting back to level the scores at 12-12. She then took the lead and never turned back, winning four consecutive points to race to 16-12. She won another three consecutive points to reach 20-15 and while Mitsova saved three game points, Ira took the game with a three-point gap.

The second game was poised at 11-10 in Ira’s favour before the Indian raced away post the interval. She took seven consecutive points to lead 18-10 and took the game 21-13. Ira faces Denmark’s Line Christophersen in the quarterfinal.

Men’s doubles pair M.R. Arjun and Dhruv Kapila also reached the quarterfinals after beating England’s Rory Easton and Zach Russ 21-11, 21-12. They now face another English pair, Callum Hemming and Steven Stalwood, in the last eight stage.

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Kidambi Srikanth, who is the top seed in the men’s singles category, faces Malaysia’s Cheam June Wei later in the day.

Earlier, Ashwini Ponnappa and N. Sikki Reddy reached the women’s doubles quarterfinals after receiving a walkover in the second round against Indonesia’s Fabriana Kusuma and Amalia Pratiwi.

–IANS

rkm/arm

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