India’s run at the Toyota Thailand Open came to an end on Saturday after the mixed doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Ashwini Ponnappa lost to top seeds Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai in the semi-finals.
The Indian pair went down 20-22, 18-21, 21-12 to their Thai opponents. Earlier in the day, Satwik and his men’s doubles partner Chirag Shetty also crashed out after losing their semi-final clash.
Up against the top seeds, Satwik-Ponnappa started well in the first game and kept pace with the Thai pair early on. Satwik’s backcourt coverage and Ponnappa’s brilliant anticipation kept Puavaranukroh and Taerattanachai on their toes.
However, a brief lapse in concentration just after the mid-game break saw them fall behind by four points. The Indian duo did show some spirit late in the game and saved three game points, but eventually went down 22-20.
Puavaranukroh and Taerattanachai started the second game on a high and used their impeccable shuttle placement to keep the Indians on the backfoot.
Five points behind at the mid-game break, Satwik-Ponnappa dug deep after the restart to bring the score level at 12-12. It turned out to be the opening the Indians needed as they won the second game 21-18 and forced a third game.
The decider was a battle of nerves and despite holding their own in the opening phases, the Indian duo fizzled out mid-way after a succession of unforced errors. The Thai pair won the third game comfortably 21-12.
"I'm happy with the performance today. The quality of the last two games were good. I think we have played one of the best matches of our careers against these [Puavaranukroh/Taerattanachai] top players. We couldn't even practice before coming here. We just wanted to play. We gave it a good fight today, it was very close," Satwik said after the match.
"Overall, the game was good for us because we haven't been able to train and I'm happy that our partnership has gotten a lot better during this tournament," Ashwini Ponnappa added.
Satwik-Chirag falter in men’s doubles
Defending men’s doubles champions Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty of India bowed out of the Thailand Open following a straight games loss to Malaysia’s Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik in their semi-final match.
Though the Indians made their way into the last four without dropping a single game, Saturday’s tie at the IMPACT Arena turned out to be challenging as they went down 21-81, 21-18.
In what was a closely fought opening game, Satwik-Chirag engaged in some short and quick rallies to score their points. While Chirag Shetty stuck to his preferred net game, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy was imposing with his towering smashes from the back.
However, the Indian duo paid the price for their service and unforced errors as the Malaysians ensured that they held a slender lead throughout the game before wrapping it up 21-18 to take a 1-0 lead in the match.
In the second game, the Malaysians were much more composed and controlled the rallies with ease, often drawing mistakes from the Indians. Though Chirag-Satwik kept it evenly poised till 8-8, Chia and Yik upped their game from there and raced to a 20-14 lead.
Defending six match points, the Indians did well to save four, but the deficit proved too much. The Malaysians wrapped up the match by a 21-18 scoreline to knock the Indian duo out and sealed their place in Sunday’s final.
“We didn't control the shuttle,” Satwiksairaj Rankireddy admitted. “We tried to pick things up in the second game.
“They are more experienced players. They made the All England finals in 2019,” Satwik pointed out. “We fought for each point and maybe we could have been calmer. We're disappointed but happy to play in the semi-finals.”
Lead photo: Badmintonphoto - Courtesy of BWF