Fifth seeds Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty bowed out in the opening round of men’s doubles at Singapore Open Super 750 event on Wednesday.
Akira Koga and Taichi Saito of Japan, the world No 24 pair, defeated the Indians 21-18 14-21 21-18 in a thrilling 68-minute battle in the men’s doubles round of 32.
Also ending their campaign in the opening round were Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand as Hong Kong’s Yeung Nga Ting and Yeung Pui Lam prevailed in three games 14-21 21-18 19-21.
Satwik-Chirag came into this match with a 1-0 Head-to-Head advantage against the Japanese duo, who had coach Tan Kim Her in their corner (the man who played a big role in the early stages of the Indians’ career as a pair). The match started with both pairs constantly changing leads. But just as Chirag-Satwik seemed like they are gaining control at 15-12, Koga-Saito pushed ahead with four straight points and held on to their lead.
The second game saw the Asian Champions bounce back strongly. Satwik-Chirag closed it out 21-14, leading for the majority of the game.
The decider was another rollercoaster affair with the Japanese pair taking a 11-9 lead into the change of ends. While the Indians once again appeared to turn things around post interval, some sensational defending by Koga and Saito saw them wrestle back control. With a little bit of help from the net cord, the Japanese pair held.
World No 5 Chirag and Satwik would have been keen to bounce back from a less than ideal outing at the Thailand Open last week. The Indian duo, however, have now suffered back-to-back early exits at the start of their Paris 2024 Olympic Qualification cycle. In Thailand, the Indians had also lost in three games against Muhammad Shohibul Fikri and Bagas Maulana, the former All England champions from Indonesia who were eventual runners-up last week.
Later in the women’s doubles, Treesa and Gayatri were off to a rusty start against the world No 28 pair of Ting and Lam. The opening game was mostly a one-sided affair with the Indians getting better as things progressed.
The Hong Kong pair opened up a lead early in the second game but the Indians were then in a good rhythm, going from 5-8 to 10-9. Eventually, Gayatri-Treesa took the 2nd game 21-18.
In the decider, the Indian youngsters started well and could have had a bigger lead into the final change of ends but were ahead 11-10.
The Yeungs stayed in the match with some crazy defending but it seemed the Indians had better control at 17-14.
But from 16-18 down, Lam and Ting won four straight points and suddenly the Indians had to ward off two match points. One they saved, but the second they couldn’t.
On Tuesday, Priyanshu Rajawat produced yet another impressive performance against one of the top 15 players in the world when he defeated world No 15 Kanta Tsuneyama of Japan. Rajawat faces another tough test in the second round in the form of third seed Naraoka.
Srikanth Kidambi made it to the round of 16 at the Super 750 event, while India’s top-ranked singles shuttlers PV Sindhu and HS Prannoy saw their campaigns end in the opening round in Singapore. The former world No 1 next faces Chia Hao Lee of Chinese Taipei, who replaced Viktor Axelsen from reserves. The world No 42 defeated Kenta Nishimoto in the opening round for an upset win.
Also progressing through on Tuesday, in men’s doubles, were MR Arjun and Dhruv Kapila who will next face world No 18 Ben Lane and Sean Vendy of England.