Pranaav Jerry Chopra and N Sikki Reddy on Friday became only the second Indian doubles pair to reach the semi-finals of a Superseries after registering a hard-fought win against South Korea’s Seung Jae Seo and former world No 1 Kim Ha Na. Chopra and Reddy won by a 21-19, 9-21, 21-19 margin after a 58-minute contest in the quarter-finals at the Japan Open Superseries.
The Indian pair showed terrific nerves in the closing stages of the first and third games. On both occasions, there was little to choose from between the two sets of players. After edging past the Koreans in the first game, Chopra and Reddy were left licking their wounds in the second, losing by a whopping 9-21 margin.
Seung and Kim reeled off seven straight points during the one-sided second game but the Indians showed impressive resilience in the third. Advantage swung back and forth in the decider. Chopra and Reddy had a slender 11-9 lead at the break, but Seo and Kim seized momentum with yet another seven-point burst.
Chopra and Reddy came from behind to bring the scores level at 19-19. There was no looking back for the clinical Indians, who raced over the line with two straight points. The only other time an Indian mixed doubles pair reached this stage of a tournament was in 2009 – Jwala Gutta and V Diju had then created history when they went on to lift the Chinese Taipei Grand Prix. In the same year, Diju and Jwala had also managed to reach the World Super Series Masters final in Malaysia. Chopra and Reddy will be facing Japan’s Takuro Hoki and Sayaka Hitora in the semi-finals.
Srikanth, Prannoy crash out
Kidambi Srikanth failed to the breach the defence of world champion Viktor Axelsen as he crashed out the tournament after succumbing to a 17-21, 17-21 loss in a quarter-final that lasted 40 minutes.
The Dane was the pace-setter right from the outset, leaving the Indian little chance with his smashes down the line. Srikanth, though, fought his way back with a series of quality cross-court drops, surging into the lead at one stage. Axelsen, though, came from behind to pocket the first.
Srikanth was playing catch-up in the second game too, but this time, the Dane had found his groove. Axelsen stretched his opponent across the court before finishing off points on a number of occasions. The Indian was unable to mount a challenge against a player curently in the form of his life.