Syed Modi badminton: Srikanth, Sai Praneeth lose in the first round
Twice former champion Sameer Verma and defending women’s champion Malvika Bansod too lost in the BWF Super 300 badminton event in Lucknow
Former world No.1 Kidambi Srikanth has endured a bleak 2023, not managing to shake off the foreboding start of three first round exits in January. The 30-year-old has not crossed the third round this year, but it has mostly been first round losses.
Any hope of a change of fortune at home after three first-round exits in a row was dashed as he added a dubious fourth at the Syed Modi India International Badminton World Tour Super 300 tournament here on Wednesday after Chinese Taipei’s Lee Chia-hao beat him 23-21 21-8.
The 2021 world championships silver medallist, whose world ranking has dropped to 24, put up a fight in the first game, but the four-time Commonwealth Games medallist lost steam against the 2021 World University Games mixed team gold medallist. The seasoned B Sai Praneeth too didn’t cross the first hurdle, losing 17-21, 15-21 to Japan’s world No.12 Kenta Nishimoto in 43 minutes.
Twice former champion Sameer Verma and defending women’s singles winner Malvika Bansod too lost. Verma went down fighting to Wang Tzu Wei of Chinese Taipei, 9-21, 21-7, 17-21 while Bansod lost a thriller to Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara, 21-18, 17-21, 10-21.
In the first game, Srikanth was engaged in a neck-and-neck tussle with Lee, the 2015 World Junior Championships mixed team bronze medallist and world No 36. It reached 19-all, and despite levelling the game at 21, Srikanth faltered to lose.
The second game saw Srikanth, the sixth seed and former champion, outclassed as Lee reeled off eight consecutive points and finished the match in 36 minutes. Lee consistently attacked and was accurate with his placements to race ahead after the two players were locked at four-all.
However, making full use of Srikanth’s wayward hitting, Lee pounced on the opportunities to finish off the challenge quickly, leaving the handful fans disappointed at the Uttar Pradesh Badminton Academy hall.
The match between Bansod and Rio Olympics bronze medallist Okuhara went to the wire as the Japanese ace showcased resilience, bouncing back after losing the first game to secure victory in the next two games. The battle, lasting just over an hour, kept the audience on the edge of their seats.
World Championships silver medallist Ashwini Ponnappa and Tanisha Crasto provided the silver lining for India, securing a straight games victory over compatriots Samriddhi Singh and Sonali Singh in the women’s doubles first round. They won 21-8, 21-9. They will face the Panda sisters, Rutaparna and Swetaparna in the round of 16 clash on Thursday.
In other first-round action, Unnati Hooda staged a comeback to defeat compatriot Akarshi Kashyap 15-21, 21-19, 21-18. In mixed doubles, Malaysia’s Roy King Yap and Valerie Shaw dominated against India’s Shivam Sharma and Purvisha S Ram, winning 21-13, 21-10.
Other Indians, Rutvika Gadde Shivani in women’s singles, Ayush Makhija and Venkat Gaurav Prasad in men’s doubles, Satish Kumar and Priyanshu Rajawat in men’s singles, Neeti Kumar and Navadha Mangalam in mixed doubles, and Simran Singhi and Ritika Thaker, Dhanya Nanda Kumar and Riddhi Kaur Toor, and Trisha Jali and Gayatri Gopichand – all women’s doubles -- reached the second round.