Indians impress on opening day of badminton's China Open

Mixed doubles delight as Marin makes a statement

By Swapnil Bhopatkar ·

It was a good day for India as the 2019 China Open Super 1000 event got underway in Changzhou on Tuesday, as both the mixed doubles pair as well as the men’s doubles pair advanced through to the next round.

Stunning victory

The mixed doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Ashwini Ponnappa pulled off an excellent 22-20, 17-21, 21-17 victory against Indonesia’s Praveen Jordan and Melati Daeva Oktavianti, despite experiencing a mid-game stumble.

Ranked 26th, the Indian pair got off to a nervy start but somehow managed to recover after trailing 12-18 in the opening game. Catching the Indonesian pair at 20-20, Ponnappa and Rankireddy wrapped the first game 22-20.

Jordan and Oktavianti, however, made up for their slow start and got back on level terms by clinching game two by a 21-17 margin.

But in the deciding third game, the Indian duo held the edge against the number seven seeds, winning it 21-17.

The pair will now lock horns with Japan's Yuki Kaneko and Misaki Matsutomo, who defeated Ireland's brother-and-sister duo of Sam Magee and Chloe Magee, in the second round on Wednesday.

Dream comeback

In the men’s doubles, Rankireddy joined forces with his regular partner Chirag Shetty and couldn’t have asked for a better comeback. Returning from an injury layoff, which forced them to miss the World Championships, the Indian pair defeated Canada’s Jason Ho-Shue and Nyl Yakura in straight games.

In an utterly one-sided affair, the Indians hardly broke a sweat to clinch the first game 21-7. Cruising to an 11-3 lead by the mid-game break, the pair went on to dismantle the Canadians in absolute style.

The second game though had a different story in store. Ho-Shue and Yakura put up a fight on the back of which they sailed to a 15-9 lead. Unfazed by the challenge, the Indian pair combined well to turn the game on its head.

With precise placement and calculated smashes, the Indians wrapped the game 21-18 to set up a second-round clash against Japan’s Takeshi Kamura and Keigo Sonoda.

World No.1 bows out

In arguably the biggest upset of the tournament, World No.1 Akane Yamaguchi crashed out of the competition after losing her tie 20-22, 17-21, 22-24 to Russia’s Evgeniya Kosetskaya. A hard-fought contest, Kosetskaya - ranked 33 - gave the Japanese a run for her money to set up a second-round tie against Sayaka Takahashi.

In only her second game after an eight month injury lay off, reigning Olympic champion Carolina Marin advanced following a straight-game victory over Japan’s number four seed Nozomi Okuhara.

Marin, who has told the Olympic Channel about her strategy to retain her gold medal at Tokyo 2020, lost her comeback match at the Vietnam Open last week.