Jakarta: Top Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal dispatched crowd-favourite Fitriani of Indonesia in straight games to cruise into the women's singles quarterfinals at the 18th Asian Games, here on Saturday.
Like the first round, it was an easy win for the Indian, who outclassed the world number 40 Indonesian 21-6, 21-14 in a second round match which was little over half an hour.
Commonwealth Games silver medallists Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, however, couldn't cross the second round after their gallant fight ended with a 17-21 21-19 17-21 against Korea's Choi Solgyu and Min Hyuk Kang in men's doubles.
In the women's singles, whatever resistance Saina faced was in the second game as Fitriani, backed by the fans, created a 8-5 lead but Saina never allowed her rival to shift the momentum.
Saina hit very deep with acute angles which Fitriani struggled to contend with.
Fitriani hit a smash over the lines, attacking the backhand side of Saina at 19-14 to give the Indian her first match point.
Another return from Fitriani sailed over the baseline, sending Saina to the last-eight stage. Fitriani was part of the Indonesian team which won a bronze in the women's team event.
"It's an easy win but she is not easy opponent to play with. She did well against (Nozomi) Okuhora in the team championship. There were pretty long rallies and crowd was also supporting her. The conditions were also tough today, there was more drift," Saina said.
Fitriani was wildly cheered by the home fans and Saina said it does make it difficult to play Indonesians on their home turf.
"It's crazy here, it's like the football and cricket matches. You have to play against so many but they cheered for me also, so I am happy. When you keep losing points and crowd gets behind you, it helps. It happened in the second game, she started playing well and got pretty good lead but I am happy I got back from a difficult situation," she said.
"I have played a lot of finals here so I am used to it but every match is new, so it is still difficult. My movement was good today," added the London Olympics bronze medallist, who had finished as runners-up at the Indonesian Master here early this year.
The world number 10 Indian said competing at the big tournaments like Asian Games creates additional pressure due to expectations.
"All the big tournaments are tough to play, the CWG, Asian Games, World Championship and Olympics because you are playing against yourself. It comes in four years. It's not easy to take in the mind and stay calm," she said.
Elsewhere, Indian athletes began their campaign on a promising note as Muhammed Anas and Arokia Rajiv qualified for the men's 400m semi-finals.
High-jumper Chethan Subramanya also qualified for the men's high jump final, as he finished fifth in Group B and cleared the mark of 2.15.
In shooting, Commonwealth Games gold medalist Anish Bhanwala and Shivam Shukla finished 9th and 11th positions respectively, as they failed to qualify for the men's 25m rapid fire pistol final.
In volleyball, India beat Maldives 25-12, 25-21, 25-17 in men's Pool F match.
In archery, India beat Vietnam 5-3 to enter the quarterfinal of recurve men's team Archery event. However, their women counterparts comprising Ankita Bhakat, Promila Diamary and Deepika Kumari were knocked out by Chinese Taipei (6-2) from the semifinals of the recurve women's team Archery event.
India is now standing at the ninth position with a total medal tally of 25 - six gold, five silver and 14 bronze....