In their first match of 2021 and returning to the venue of their biggest title till date in 2019, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty came from behind to defeat the South Korean pair of Kim Gi Jung and Lee Yong Dae 19-21, 21-16, 21-14.
The reward for Satwik-Chirag is a big test against three-time world champions Hendra Setiawan and Mohammad Ahsan, the second seeds from Indonesia.
Later in the day, Srikanth Kidambi and Saina Nehwal also sealed their progress to the round of 16.
The Indian pair was ranked higher (10 compared to 31) but it was not an easy fixture, with Lee Yong Dae one of the greatest to have played the game. The Indians were, understandably, delighted by the win over their idol.
“Lee Yong Dae was an idol for both of us when we started out, so it was excellent playing him today, and we are happy to get the win,” Satwiksairaj said according to PTI.
For Shetty, it was also a learning opportunity.
“Lee Yong Dae at the net is really good, one of the best. Although he’s not at his prime right now, he’s pretty lethal. Like at last year’s Malaysia Masters they won the title when nobody expected them to. You can’t write off such pairs,” Shetty told BWF.
The first game was a really close affair with Satwik-Chirag losing their concentration at the end due to an argument with the chair umpire over a net-call. But the Indian youngsters did not let that derail their momentum and breezed through the second and third games.
“We’ve been practising together for the last two months,” said Satwik.
“We are doing well in practice; that hunger is there. We didn’t play well last year, so that spirit, that fire is there inside, and we’re heading into the Olympics, so we want to see what the other players have worked on during the last few months.”
Later, India’s star men’s singles shuttler Srikanth Kidambi overcame compatriot Sourabh Verma in straight games to enter the round of 16 after a 21-12, 21-11 win in 31 minutes. Srikanth will face world No 10 Lee Zii Jia, who beat HS Prannoy in three games in the last match of the day.
After her ordeal with the Covid-19 protocols on Tuesday, Nehwal registered a straightforward win to reach the round of 16 with a a 21-15, 21-15 win over Kisona Selvaduray. She’ll take on Thailand’s Busanan Ongbamrungphan next.
Parupalli Kashyap made an early exit from the Super 1000 tournament after he was forced to retire midway in his opening-round match against Jason Anthony Ho-Shue of Canada.
Kashyap, a former Commonwealth Games champion, was trailing 8-14 in the third game when he chose to retire as he pulled his calf muscle. He had lost the first game 9-21 before making a comeback to take the second 21-13.
Sameer Verma too made a first round exit after losing 15-21, 17-21 to Shesar Hiren Rhustavito of Indonesia.
However, it was curtains for Arjun Madathil Ramachandran and Dhruv Kapila, who lost to the Malaysian duo of Ong Yew Sin and Teo Ee Yi 21-13, 8-21, 22-24. The latter pair is ranked No 15 in the world but the Indians acquitted themselves well to force three point match points in the decider. But, at the second time of asking, the Malaysians triumphed.
Another Indian men’s doubles pair of Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy also lost in the opening round to Thai duo of Weeraphat Phakjarung and Wongsathorn Thongkham 19-21, 14-21.
The mixed doubles pair of N Sikki Reddy and Sumeeth Reddy B also went down at the opening hurdle, losing to Chung Man Tang and Yong Suet Tse 20-22, 17-21. The Indian husband-wife duo had game points in the opener but the eighth seeds held on under pressure before turning things around in the second game.
Here’s a look at the schedule for tomorrow