Indian shuttlers Kidambi Srikanth and Lakshya Sen both lost their opening round matches to exit the French Open Super 750 on Wednesday. This means that the Indian challenge in the men’s singles event ends with HS Prannoy, the highest ranked Indian, having already pulled out of the tournament.
PV Sindhu in women’s singles and the world No 1 pairing of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty are now the only Indians left in the tournament in Rennes after the duo of Rutaparna Panda and Swetaparna Panda also lost their opening encounter on Tuesday.
Having led the head-to-head record 3-1, Srikanth kept abreast of his French opponent Toma Junior Popov through the first few points of the opening game. Both players continued to exchange the lead, not letting the other run away with the game, with Srikanth leading 11-8 at the break.
However, Popov was able to go on a streak of winning four consecutive points that saw him wrest the lead from the Indian at 14-12. The Frenchman then continued to dominate the game and would go on two more streaks of consecutive points won to close out the opening game 21-17.
The second game began in a similar fashion to the first with both players exchanging serve regularly. However, once Popov opened up a lead of four points at 8-4, he started to dictate the game more and didn’t allow Srikanth to come back into the match. At the half-way point, the Indian trailed 7-11 and never caught up with Popov. The Frenchman closed out the Round of 32 match with a straight game win, taking the second game 21-15.
Ranked world no 17, Sen showcased his skill in the opening game against Arnaud Merkle, also from France. The Indian would recover from a 6-10 deficit to go into the break with the opening game at 11-all. But Merkle then went on a five-point winning streak to gain his lead and ultimately closed out the opening game 21-15.
The second game was significantly closer with neither player fully establishing a good lead through the first half of the game. Going into the break, Merkle led 11-10. However, Sen was four points away from taking the match into a deciding game with the score poised at 17-14 in his favour. Merkle then recovered to reach 18-all and then went on a streak of three consecutive points to close out the second game 21-18 and knock out Sen.
On Thursday, Sindhu will face off against Thailand’s Supanida Katethong who she beat in the quarter-final of the Denmark Open last week.
Also in the Round of 16, Rankireddy and Shetty will play the Indonesia pair of Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan against whom they have a 3-3 head-to-head record.