India’s Kiran George claimed the biggest win of his career yet after beating China’s world No 9 Shi Yu Qi in the first round of men’s singles action at the Thailand Open Super 500 in Bangkok on Wednesday. It was the Indian shuttler’s first win against a top 10 player on tbe international circuit.
Later in the day, men’s doubles top seeds Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy made it through to the second round after a three-game win against Demark’s Frederik Sogaard and Rasmus Kjaer (21-13, 18-21, 21-17). In men’s singles Lakshya Sen recovered from a blip in the opening game, to complete a three-game win (21-23, 21-15, 21-15) against Chinese Taipei’s Wang Tzu Wei, the world No 27.
But elsewhere, there was disappointment as PV Sindhu and Srikanth Kidambi were knocked out in the opening rounds. Kidambi Srikanth went down fighting to China’s Weng Hong Yang 8-21, 21-16, 14-21 while Canada’s Michelle Li defeated Sindhu for the first time since 2014 8-21, 21-18, 18-21.
The other winner on the day was Ashmita Chaliha progressed to the round of 16, defeating compatriot Malvika Bansod. Also winning her first-round match was former world No 1 Saina Nehwal, who returned to the circuit for the first time since Orleans Masters in April.
Biggest win yet for George
The headline, of course, belonged to George, the Odisha Open 2022 winner. Shi Yu Qi, the 2018 World Championships silver medallist, started the match strongly, racing to a 10-3 lead. George kept chipping at Yu Qi’s lead to stay in the game before going on a five-point run to take a 18-16 lead himself. Yu Qi fought back to tie the scores at 18-18 but George kept his cool to secure the first game 21-18.
George carried the momentum into the second game to take a 6-0 and then 11-10 lead. The pair swapped the leads after the mid-game break. But it was the former world No 2 who pulled ahead and brought up two game points at 20-17. However George once again went on a superb five-point run to clinch the match 21-18, 22-20. The Indian, ranked world No 59, had a look of disbelief in his face as Yu Qi hit the shuttle into the net to hand him the win.
George had come through the qualifying rounds, registering two wins on Tuesday, including an impressive result against Korea’s Hyeok Jin Jeon.
In women’s singles, Sindhu struggled against Li who came into the tournament on the back of some good form. The opening game was a blowout as Li took it 21-8. Sindhu started to find her rhythm from the near side, doing well to stay in touch with Li. From 17-18 down, the Indian won four straight points to take the match to the decider.
But the third game saw Sindhu once again struggle to control the shuttle from the far end as Li opened up a huge 11-4 lead at the final change of ends. But Sindhu fought back from 5-12 down to win 10 straight points and move ahead 15-12. However the Canadian world No 15 held her nerves to close out the match.
Sindhu has tough draws in the coming weeks at the Singapore Open and Indonesia Open, so the defeat puts her in a precarious position in the quest for Olympic qualification points.
Earlier in the day, having lost the first game 21-8, Srikanth bounced back well to win the second game 21-16. It wasn’t meant to be for the Indian as Weng, who lost the Malaysia Masters final against HS Prannoy on Sunday, clinched the third game 21-14 to set up a second-round clash against George.
It was a first-round match of two halves for Orleans Masters winner Priyanshu Rajawat against Malaysia’s Tze Yong Ng. In a testy first game, Rajawat tied 18-18 and 19-19 but could not hold his nerves to win the game. The second game was a straight-forward affair as Ng secured his place in the second round with a 21-19, 21-10 win. Rajawat would be rueing his errors in the opening game, as he was perhaps the better player in the early stages.
In all-Indian women’s singles match, Ashmita Chaliha beat Malvika Bansod 21-17, 21-14 to secure a second-round clash against former Olympic champion Carolina Marin.
Facing a qualifier in the opening round, Nehwal wasted little time in winning. She won 21-13, 21-7 against Canada’s Wen Yu Zhang in less than half an hour. Nehwal will face He Bing Jiao next, the Chinese third seed trails in the H2H having lost both her meetings against the Indian.
In men’s singles, B Sai Praneeth’s campaign came to an early against the hard-hitting Christo Popov of France. The Indian lost 14-21, 16-21. Also bowing out was Sameer Verma who lost in straight games against Denmark’s up and coming Magnus Johannesen 21-15, 21-15.
In women’s doubles, the sole entry from India was Ashwini Bhat and Shikha Gautam and they bowed out in the opening round against last week’s winners Baek Ha Na and Lee So Hee.
Satwik/Chirag and Sen fight through
Saitwiksairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty, and Lakshya Sen had to dig deep to win their matches.
Former champions of this event, Chirag and Satwik are the top seeds in men’s doubles, and begin this week at a new career high of world No 4. But the Indians were pushed to the end by the Danish world No 43 pair of Rasmus Kjaer and Frederik Sogaard. While the opening game was rather comfortable, the Indians lost a close second game.
A second round tie awaits against former All England champions Muhammad Shohibul Fikri and Bagas Maulana, with the Indians win all their past three meetings.
Lakshya, who has been searching for form in 2023. started off well against Wang Tzu Wei of Chinese Taipei. But from a commanding position in the opening game, he let Wang fight back and take the lead. The second and third games however saw Sen bounce back and register similar 21-15 scorelines.
Sen face Li Shi Feng of China next, the reigning All England champion who has had some big matches against the Indian in their junior days. The Indian leads 3-2 in their overall H2H.
National champion Mithun Manjunath was the final Indian shuttler in action in the opening round, and he faced a tough test against Thailand’s Kunlavut Vitidsarn. The Indian started off superbly, taking the opening game 21-17 (led 20-11 at one point). But the second seed reigning world championships silver medallist fought back to win the match in three games 17-21, 21-8, 21-15.
Here are India’s results from Wednesday:
This report will be updated through the day.