India’s mixed doubles badminton pairing of Ashwini Ponnappa and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy got their Hong Kong Open campaign off to a great start by beating the world No 16s from Chinese Taipei.
Ashwini and Satwik reached the second round after defeating Wang Chi-Lin and Lee Chia Hsin 21-16, 19-21, 21-14 in 54 minutes on Tuesday.
The Indians got off to a strong start in the first game and kept a fair gap between themselves and their opponents at all times, winning it comfortably 21-16. The second game was a lot more tight, with none of the pairs managing to win more than three points at a stretch. The Taiwanese duo eventually won it 21-19 to force a decider.
The beginning of the third game was also tight, till the score reached 9-9, before the Indians found another gear and began to pull away. They eventually won it rather easily 21-14.
Satwik and Ashwini will take on another Taiwanese pair – the world No 31s Lee Yang and Hsu Ya Ching – in the second round.
Earlier in the day, Parupalli Kashyap won his only qualification match to move into the main draw. Given a walkover in the first qualification round after Malaysia’s Iskandar Zulkarnain withdrew, Kashyap beat Chinese Taipei’s Hsu Jen Hao, the top seed among the qualifiers, in three games.
Hsu got off to a horrible start, losing the first eight points to give Kashyap a sizeable lead. That wasn’t to be the Indian’s longest streak either as he later won 11 points in a row to wrap up the first game 21-7.
However, Hsu made sure it wasn’t a one-sided affair as he won the first six points of the second game. Kashyap could not recover from that and conceded the game 12-21, as the match entered a decider.
The match maintained its see-saw flow as Kashyap again came out as the stronger of the two shuttlers in the third game, taking a 12-7 lead for himself. However, Hsu managed to claw his way back to make it 13-13. It was tight till the end, before the Indian eventually closed it out 21-18 to seal his progress.
Kashyap, ranked 52nd in the world currently after struggling with injuries, will take on China Open and Indonesia Masters champion Anthony Ginting in the first round of the main draw on Wednesday.
PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal, K Srikanth, HS Prannoy, Sameer Verma, Sai Praneeth, Ashwini/Sikki Reddy, Manu Attri/Sumeeth Reddy and Satwik/Chirag Shetty will also be in action on Wednesday.