Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, Malvika Bansod, Srikanth Kidambi registered three-game victories after trailing in their respective opening round matches at the Hylo Open Super 300 event in Saarbrucken, Germany on Wednesday.
In one of the most impressive results of the day, rising young duo of Gayatri Gopichand and Treesa Jolly defeated the European Championships silver medallists Isabel Lohau and Linda Efler of Germany.
Also progressing into the next round were Aakarshi Kashyap, Krishna Prasad Garaga and Vishnuvardhan Goud Panjala.
While it was mostly a good day for the Indian shuttlers, there was a defeat for Saina Nehwal and another injury worry for Sameer Verma. The day also started with the news of couple of Indian withdrawals. In-form HS Prannoy pulled out ahead of the opening round match, while MR Arjun and Dhruv Kapila were also listed as giving a walkover. Arjun later posted that he had an ankle injury that made them withdraw.
Srikanth’s win in the final match of the day will go down as one of the highlights of the day for India, not just for overcoming a tricky Chinese opponent in the first round but the way he turned things around to win 15-21, 21-14, 21-13 in 62 minutes.
The second and third game saw Srikanth play some vintage attacking badminton, eliciting numerous moments of awe and applause in the arena late in the night.
Srikanth faces French youngster Arnaud Merkle next, it will be their first meeting.
Chirag-Satwik fight back
Men’s doubles pairing of Satwik-Chirag were two points away from an early exit but fought back to progress with a thrilling win, in a match that had some dramatic moments. Around the same time, Bansod also completed a fine fightback against a slightly higher-ranked player Clara Azurmendi from Spain.
Fresh from their Super 750 triumph in Paris, Satwik and Chirag faced a tricky test against Lee Yang and Lu Chen. While it was the first meeting between this pairing, Lee is half of the pairing that won the gold medal at Tokyo Olympics last year. The Indians had met Lee and Wang Chi Lin in the group stages and had even defeated them in Tokyo.
On Wednesday, they dropped the opening game but came back strong to win 19-21, 21-19, 21-16 in just over an hour. The opening saw the Indians fight back from 7-14 to 17-17 but Lee and Lu pulled ahead in the end. In the second game, the two pairs were neck and neck for the most part, with neither pair dominating any stretch.
There was also a point where the Indians were frustrated by a line call (not for the first time in the match) and both had rackets down at one point, calling for the referee to intervene. But they were presumably told to carry on. From 17-19 down, they found their groove to win four straight points.
The decider saw Satwik-Chirag stay in the lead from 8-8 onward and close the match out. There was relief more than celebration in the end as they navigated a tough test.
The Indians will face England’s Rory Easton and Zach Russ next.
For Bansod, the opening game was a case of missed opportunities, as she had three game points at 20-17. But Azurmendi, world No 39, won five straight points to take the lead. The Indian, however, was in control from the second game onwards and the decider was a completely one-sided affair as she won 20-22, 21-12, 21-6.
Bansod will face Kirsty Gilmour [seventh seed] next. Gilmour has won their sole previous meeting.
Kashyap, who won the National Games recently beating Bansod in the final, took on Léonice Huet from France. She won 21-11, 12-21, 21-7 in 49 minutes. The opening game and third game were comfortable affairs for the Indian, who was plagued with a flurry of errors in the second game but recovered well. She will face world No 23 Line Højmark Kjaersfeldt next. The Indian has beaten her once before in 2021, and trails 1-2 in H2H.
For Nehwal, the fourth seed from Thailand Busanan Ongbamrungphan proved too good. The Indian started well enough in the opening game, but the Thai shuttler pulled ahead. Ongbamrungphan ended up winning 21-15, 21-8 in 34 minutes.
Also progressing were men’s doubles were Krishna Prasad Garaga and Vishnuvardhan Goud Panjala who came back from a game down against compatriots Ravikrishna and Sankar Prasad Udayakumar. The former won 22-24, 21-12, 21-17 and will next face Kim Astrup and Anders Skaarup Rasmussen of Denmark next. It provides the Indian duo with an interesting chance of helping out Satwik-Chirag in their quest to reach the World Tour Finals as the Danish second seeds are also in the running.
In women’s doubles, world No 22 Linda Efler and Isabel Lohau were a good test for Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand Pullela in the opening round and the Indians came through in straight games much to the delight of coach Mathias Boe. Debora Jille and Cheryl Seinen, world No 31, await them next.
Sister duo of Rutaparna Panda and Swetaparna Panda got a walkover after Tanisha Crasto and Shruti Mishra withdrew.
Simran Singhi and Ritika Thaker start off against Vivian Hoo and Lim Chiew Sien.
In that quarter Sameer Verma retired hurt at the start of the match against Jonatan Christie.