Sai Praneeth - lone Indian to reach QFs of China Open

IB Times

Editor Image Courtesy: IB Times 19 Sep, 2019

B Sai Praneeth remains the only Indian to reach the QFs of the VIKTOR China Open 2019, as Day 3 of the tournament turned out to be quite the nightmare for the Indian contingent. PV Sindhu, Parupalli Kashyap both lost in their respective singles, while Satwik/Chirag, Satwik/Ashwini, Sikki/Ashwini lost in their doubles’ encounters.

Sai Praneeth overcame stiff resistance from Lu Guang Zu of China in the second-round encounter to make it to the last eight. In a match that began on an even kneel, Sai Praneeth opened up a slender advantage going into the mid-game interval. A 4-point post-interval surge allowed the Chinese opponent to tie score at 14-all, and both players remained locked until 19-all, having traded the lead alternatively. Sai managed to hold his nerve and close out the game at the first time of asking, to hold a slender advantage.

In the second game, Sai made a positive start but every time he threatened to pull away, Lu managed to make a come back and stayed at Sai’s coattails. Sai lead consistently through the game, but never had a commanding lead, the best he managed was a 4-point advantage at 16-12. And although, Lu managed to save 3 match points and close the gap to 20-19 in the second game, Sai held his nerve and took the match in straight games 21-19 21-19.

The day began on a sombre note for the Indian contingent when Satwik Sairaj & Chirah Shetty lost their doubles encounter to 4th seeds Takeshi Kamura & Keigo Sonoda 21-19 21-8. The Japanese pair lead right from the word go and despite Satwik/Chirag’s sustained pressure managed to take the opening game eventually. In the second game, the Japanese were a lot more dominant taking a 5-0 lead in the initial stages, which paved a way for an easy win in the end.

Satwik then returned to the court with Ashwini Ponnappa for the mixed doubles encounter against another Japanese pair Yuki Kaneko/Misaki Matsutomo. The Indian pair were competitive in the opening game until the mid-game interval, but 5 consecutive-points for the Japanese pair after the interval, left a little too much for Satwik/Ashwini to chase.

The second game was a far tighter affair with both teams tied at 14-all at one point. This time it was the Indian pair’s turn to put together a 5-point streak of their own and take the second game and force a decider. A 4-all opening gambit, notwithstanding the Japanese team proved to be much stronger as they closed the match 21-11 16-21 21-12 in just under an hour.

Having lost both the doubles encounters to start the day, the Indian fans were really looking forward to PV Sindhu bringing some good news as she took to the court to face Pornpawee Chochuwong of Thailand for her second-round match. Sindhu raced to a 7-1 lead, and despite a mid-game comeback by the opponent managed to win the game with relative ease. 

In the second game, it was Pornpawee who made a brighter start and Sindhu’s turn to chase her opponent. The Thai player turned the tables and the score to draw level at 1-game apiece. The decider was a cagey affair with both players staying neck-and-neck in the early exchanges. Sindhu then peeled away 4-straight to open up a healthy lead at the halfway mark. At 19-15, Sindhu looked to have done enough to move into the QFs, but Pornpawee mounted a spirited comeback to take six straight points to complete a stunning comeback.

A 12-21 21-13 21-19 win for the 21-year old, was the biggest shock of the day and a bitter disappointment for the Indian fans. 

In women’s doubles, Sikki Reddy/Ashwini Ponnappa made a competitive start against the number two seeds Misaki Matsumoto/Ayaka Takahashi. Tied 11-apiece in the opening game, the Japanese made a stunning 8-point surge that left the Indian pair way behind. The second game followed a similar pattern with Sikki/Ashwini being far more competitive. However, it wasn’t quite their day and they ended up on the wrong side of the result 21-12 21-17.

The final game of the day for the Indian contingent was the men’s singles encounter between Parupalli Kashyap and Anthony Sinsuka Ginting of Indonesia. A competitive start and both players trading the lead alternatively made for a lively contest. At 20-all the game was for anyone’s taking, Kashyap managed to save one game point but then the seventh seed took the game at the second time of asking.

Kashyap made a strong come back in the second game, as he established an early lead and pressed home with the advantage post the mid-game interval. In the third game, however, Anthony completely turned the tables on Kashyap as he opened up a healthy opening lead and then took the game & the match with relative ease.

With all but one player left across all five events, day 3 of the China Open 2019, wasn’t quite the best of days for team India.

Our Partners