Satwik-Ashwini notch up stunning opening round win at China Open
Rankireddy then paired with Chirag Shetty to beat the Canadian duo of Jason Anthony Ho-Shue and Nyl Yakura 21-7 21-18 in a 30-minute match to enter the men’s doubles second round.Updated: Sep 17, 2019 21:40 IST
Indian shuttler Satwiksairaj Rankireddy made an impressive return to the circuit, winning both his doubles matches on a tumultuous day at the China Open that saw as many as three former world champions and a current world No 1 being knocked out in the first round.
The 19-year-old Rankireddy first joined hands with experienced campaigner Ashwini Ponnappa to oust Indonesian sixth seeds Praveen Jordan and Melati Daeva Oktavianti 22-20, 17-21, 21-17 in 50 minutes to enter the second round of mixed doubles. The unseeded Indian pair will next take on Japanese combine of Yuki Kaneko and Misaki Matsumoto.
After catching his breath with a two-hour break, Rankireddy returned to the court with his men’s doubles partner Chirag Shetty to down Canadian combine of Jason Anthony Ho-Shue and Nyl Yakura 21-7, 21-18 in half an hour in Changzhou.
The world No 15 pair, however, face a tougher task ahead as they take on Japanese fourth seeds and two-time World Championship medallists Takeshi Kamura and Keigo Sonoda, who have a perfect 3-0 record against the Indians.
Shetty and Rankireddy had won the Thailand Open in early August, defeating world champions Li Junhui and Liu Yuchen of China in the final. However, injuries forced both of them out of the World Championships especially when they were looking to earn India’s second Worlds medal in doubles after Jwala Gutta and Ponnappa (women’s in 2011).
BIG NAMES FALL
Three former world champions—Danish Viktor Axelsen, China’s Lin Dan and Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara—had to bite the dust as they went down in the opening round of the $1 million tournament.
Reigning Olympic champion Carolina Marin announced her return to the circuit by ousting 2017 world champion Nozomi Okuhara 21-16, 21-18 in 46 minutes to level her head-to-head to 6-6. Out of the circuit for eight months due to a knee surgery, the three-time world champion Spaniard lost her comeback match at the Vietnam Open last week but will face American Beiwen Zhang in the second round.
A short while later, Russian world No 33 Evgeniya Kosetskaya caused the biggest upset of the day by beating world No 1 and top seed Akane Yamaguchi of Japan 20-22, 21-17, 24-22 in only 46 minutes.
In men’s competition, returning from an injury layoff and playing his first match since May, sixth seed Axelsen went down 21-10, 14-21, 16-21 in a little more than an hour to Japan’s Kanta Tsuneyama. This was the Dane’s first loss to the world No 17 in three meetings.
On the adjacent court, the darling of the crowd, five-time world champion Lin Dan was easily tamed by reigning world champion Kento Momota. The Japanese world No 1 silenced the crowd at the Olympic Sports Center Gymnasium by beating the local favourite and two-time Olympic champion 21-14, 21-14 in 49 minutes to win his fourth match in five meetings against the Chinese great.
China Open is one of the three elite Super 1000 tournaments on the BWF World Tour along with All England Open and Indonesia Open.
First Published: Sep 17, 2019 20:03 IST