The Indian shuttlers began the third day of the ongoing Toyota Thailand Open on a winning note. Sameer Verma, PV Sindhu, mixed doubles duo of Ashwini Ponnappa-Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and men’s doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty won their respective bouts.
Ace shuttler Kidambi Srikanth tested negative for COVID-19. He had to pull out of the contest after his roommate and fellow Indian Sai Praneeth tested positive for the dreaded virus.
After an astounding opening match win, Sameer Verma recorded another awe-striking victory against Denmark’s Rasmus Gemke. Verma led the match from the start and finished the first game in less than 20 minutes. The 26-year old made quick work of his opponent in the second bout barely breaking a sweat to win the match. He was in complete control as he wrapped up the fixture in a straight game victory. The scores were, 21-12, 21-9.
“I was very confident before the match. I came prepared. Next up I have Anders Antonsen from Denmark. I’m feeling very confident, so let’s see. It will be tough but I will play my best,” Verma said.
The mixed doubles duo of Ashwini Ponnappa and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy produced an incredible comeback as they beat Germany’s Mark Lamsfuss and Isabel Herttrich. The Indians drew first blood as they won the first game, 22-20. However, the Germans completely dominated the second bout securing the win, 14-21. Although the Indian pair looked down and about, they came back with a bang in the decider. They did well to regroup and claimed the victory in the match, 21-16.
Indian mens doubles pair of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy sailed into the the quarterfinals as they beat Choi Solgyu and Seo Seung Jae of South Korea. The Indian pair seemed to be in top form as they took the first game. However, their seventh seeded opponents took the lead going into the break in the second bout. The Indian duo stuck it out against the South Koreans to take it deep and eventually prevail. The scores were, 21-18, 23-21.
“We served and received pretty well, that made the difference for us. Overall, we are getting back to the way we were playing in 2019. Despite the break, we’ve played with each other for a long time. However long we are away from each other, the combination is always set… it will take time to get back to our usual selves, but a month’s practise was good enough for us. We prepared well individually,” Chirag Shetty said.
World no. 7 PV Sindhu waltzed her way into the quarter finals with a straight game victory against Malaysian Kisona Selvaduray. She dominated the match throughout, hardly giving her opponent any chance to operate in the first game. After a comfortable first game win, the Rio silver medalist barely put a step wrong in the second bout either. She was in her element throughout as she secured a commanding victory. The scores were, 21-10, 21-12.
Indians win many but lose some
In an otherwise brilliant outing for the Indian shuttlers, a few losses blotted the day.
HS Prannoy faced off against Malaysian Daren Liew. Although Prannoy had his moments Liew held his ground capitalsiing on the opportunities better than Prannoy. The Malaysian took the first game. Prannoy’s inspiring run at the tournament came to a premature end as Liew proved to be a hurdle far too high for the 28-year old. The scores were, 17-21, 18-21.
The mens doubles pair of MR Arjun and Dhruv Kapila crashed out of the tournament against British shuttlers Ben Lane and Sean Vendy. The Indian duo had given a good account of their mettle in the tournament however their efforts fell short as their opponents took away the match in a straight game victory. The scores were, 9-21, 11-21.
It was an incredible outing for the Indians on Thursday. Toyota Thailand Open will only get more exciting as it progresses. After a poor run in the first leg, the Indians are producing literal magic in the second edition.