The Indian badminton men’s doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, on Tuesday, crashed out in the first round of the ongoing 2023 Japan Masters Super 500. Rankireddy and Shetty lost to Chinese Taipei’s Lu Ching Yao and Yang Po Han.

Rankireddy and Shetty, who have dropped to No. 5 in the world after briefly rising to the top of the Badminton World Federation rankings after their Asian Games triumph, lost 21-16, 18-21, 16-21 in a battle which lasted 63 minutes.

The Indian pair started off slowly in the contest trailing 0-3 in the first game before slowly finding their rhythm. They levelled the terms at four apiece before racing to a comfortable 11-7 lead at the first mid-game break.

The Taiwanese pair then bounced back well to draw equal at 13-13 but Rankireddy and Shetty had enough left in the tank to pocket the first game 21-16.

The early phase of the second game saw the shuttlers engrossed in some stunning rallies, before Yang and Lu edged out an 11-9 lead. Post the interval, errors overflowed from the Indians one after the other as Shetty was frequently targetted at his body and Rankireddy forced to play out of his comfort by the World No 21 pair, who forced a decider by winning the second game 21-18.

The Chinese Taipei pair continued to cash in on the new found momentum in the third game as they raced to a 10-7 lead before the Indians fought back only to trail 10-11.

Rankireddy and Shetty looked a pale shadow of themselves after the change of sides as they Lu and Yang extended their lead to 18-21 before wrapping up the match 21-16.

The first round exit comes as a huge blow for the Indian pair in their bid to qualify for the 2023 BWF World Tour Finals. They are currently placed 13th in the HSBC Race to Finals rankings with 67,020 points accumulated during the course of the 2023 season so far.