India Open: Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty Pair Wins, Error-Prone Kidambi Srikanth Goes Down In Opener

Celebrated Indian shuttlers Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty advanced to the second round of the men’s doubles event at India Open Super 750 tournament but an erratic Kidambi Srikanth bowed out after a straight-game loss to Hong Kong’s Lee Cheuk Yiu in New Delhi on Wednesday. World No. 2 Satwik and Chirag, who had finished runner-up at Malaysia Super 1000 last week in Kuala Lumpur, eked out a 21-15 19-21 21-16 win over Fang-Chih Lee and Fang-Jen Lee of Chinese Taipei.

Earlier, a flurry of brilliant shots was sandwiched between a series of unforced errors during the 47-minute opening round clash as Srikanth went down 22-24 13-21 to world no. 18 Lee.

The Indian duo will face the winner of the match between England’s Ben Lane and Sean Vendy and Chiense Taipei’s Lu Ching Yao and Yang Po Han.

Satwik and Chirag, the Asian Games gold medallists, looked sharp as they opened up a lead and earned the bragging rights by grabbing the opening game. But Fang-Chih and Fang-Jen managed to claw back in the second game to take a 11-5 lead at the break.

The Indian pair however led a late fight back to narrow it down to 18-19 but their opponents held their nerves to force a decider.

In the final game, Satwik and Chirag once again dominated the rallies with their attacking strokes to come up trumps.

“We are really happy with the way we are playing and the way we have started. We have worked a lot on our defence over the past two years and it has brought a new facet in our armor because you can’t always rely on your attack in these slow conditions.

“We are happy to get that first win here and hopefully, we go deep into the tournament,” Satwik said. In men’s singles, Srikanth made a good start in the opening game, playing some fine strokes from the back court to keep his nose ahead. But Lee kept breathing down his neck and slowly came back to the groove and, following a tight battle, moved ahead from 17-17 to grab three game points.

Srikanth managed to claw back at 20-20 before taking a one-point lead, but then, sprayed a shot wide, as Lee sealed the game with a crisp drop in the end.

While he looked good in the first game, Srikanth fell behind 2-11 at the break after the change of ends. He recovered to 6-12, but the damage was already done as the gap was too big to be bridged by the Indian.

“I know I have been making unforced errors for sometimes and I am working on it,” said Srikanth after the match.

“I don’t play safe, that’s my game. I try to earn points. Hopefully, things will be better in next few tournaments. Parupalli (Kashyap) has a few things on his mind, so lets see. If I win a few tournaments, I will qualify for Olympics.

“I am not thinking about it as I just don’t want to qualify only, I want to be a medal contender too.” Earlier, world No. 20 Tanisha Crasto and Ashwini Ponnappa, who had won the Guwahati Masters Super 100 last December, went down fighting to world No. 10 Thai pair of Jongkolphan Kititharakul and Rawinda prajongjai 5-21 21-18 11-21 in their women’s doubles opener.

Sathish Kumar Karunakaran and Aakarshi Kashyap also faced defeats, losing to Japan’s Takuma Obayashi and China’s Chen Yu Fei respectively.

Among other Indians, the men’s pair of Krishna Prasad Garaga and Sai Pratheek, and women’s duo of Ashwini Bhat and Shikha Gautam went down in straight games to make an early exit from the tournament.

In women’s singles, defending champion An Se-Young of South Korea eked out a 14-21, 21-11, 21-11 win over three-time India Open champion Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand, while two-time former World Champion Akane Yamaguchi of Japan overcame Mia Blichfeldt of Denmark 26-24, 21-13.

In men’s singles, Indonesia’s Jonatan Christie defeated Hong Kong’s Angus NG Ka Long 21-13, 21-7, while Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist Anthony Ginting beat Japan’s Kanta Tsuneyama 16-21, 23-21, 21-17.

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