Fuzhou China Open: Rankireddy and Shetty march on for India

Parupalli Kashyap, B Sai Praneeth bow out in the Round-of-16 matches while Rankireddy-Shetty make it to quarters.

India's rising men's doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty continued their fine form this season with another win over sixth seeds Yuta Watanabe and Hiroyuki Endo of Japan in the second round of the Fuzhou Open.

Having beaten the Japanese duo in the semifinal of the 2019 French Open Super 750 last month, the Indians were once again on top of their game as they notched up a 21-18, 21-23, 21-11 win to move into the quarterfinals in China.

Their next challenge will be the local pair and third seeds Li Jun Hui and Liu Yu Chen in the last eight of the tournament on Friday.

However, Rankireddy had no such luck in the mixed doubles as he along with Ashwini Ponnappa suffered a 21-23, 16-21 defeat at the hands of Korean duo Seo Seung Jae and Chae Yujung.

Ashwini Ponnappa currently sits 31st in the mixed doubles category alongside Satwiksairaj Rankireddy on Olympic ranking table.
Ashwini Ponnappa currently sits 31st in the mixed doubles category alongside Satwiksairaj Rankireddy on Olympic ranking table.Ashwini Ponnappa currently sits 31st in the mixed doubles category alongside Satwiksairaj Rankireddy on Olympic ranking table.

A hard-fought loss

World Championship bronze medallist B Sai Praneeth fell to defeat in three games in his second-round match against fourth-seed Anders Antonsen in the Fuzhou China Open on Thursday.

The first game was a tightly-contest affair with both players matching each other point-for-point throughout. With the scores poised evenly at 8-8, Antonsen picked up three straight points but Praneeth fired back to level the game at 11-11. The Dane, yet again, found himself up by three at 17-14 but the Indian scored six of the next eight points to serve for the game. A misjudgment on the baseline by Praneeth levelled the game and Antonsen scored the next two points to win it 22-20.

The Dane carried his momentum into the second game and raced to a 6-3 lead. However, Praneeth turned the tide of the contest, capitalising on some loose shots from Antonsen to take a five-point lead. Needing just two points to win the game, Praneeth ended up losing seven of the next eight points, as Antonsen fought back from 19-13 to level the scores at 20-20. The Indian though, held his nerve and secured the game 22-20 to force a third.

Praneeth found himself down 0-4 in the third game but showed immense resilience and tied the scores later at 10-10. Three unanswered points from Antonsen however, put him in command of the contest but Praneeth kept himself in the hunt with some stellar shots.

Leading 17-15, Antonsen embarked on another run of three straight points to find himself serving for the match. Praneeth managed to win the point but only delayed the inevitable, as the Dane won the subsequent point to win the game 21-16 and move on to the quarterfinals of the China Open.

Kashyap curtailed

Earlier in the day, Parupalli Kashyap lost his second-round match 13-21, 19-21 against Viktor Axelsen. After breaking the early tie at 4-4 with a three-point run, the Danish shuttler was in control of the remainder of the first game before winning it 21-13.

The second game was much closer, as neither player could build a sizeable lead. Kashyap’s four unanswered points towards the end gave him a 19-17 advantage, as he looked set to force a decider.

However, Axelsen returned the favour, scoring four on the trot to win the game and the match.

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