Bangkok, June 1 (IANS) Kiran George and Lakshya Sen stormed into the quarterfinals even as star doubles pair Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty besides Olympic bronze medallist Saina Nehwal and Ashmita Chalia crashed out on a poor day for India in the Thailand Open 2023, here on Thursday.
Kiran George, the Odisha Open 2022 Champion, continued his superb form as he reached his first quarterfinal at a BWF World Tour Super 500 event, beating world No. 26 Weng Hong Yang of China in straight games, 21-11, 21-19 in the Round of 16 clash. Kiran George had stunned third seed Shi Yu-Qi of China in the first round on Wednesday.
Lakshya Sen kept the Indian flag flying by sealing his berth in the quarterfinals. He upset fourth seed Li Shi Feng of China 21-17, 21-15 in a 49-minute clash.
But the big setback for India was the stunning defeat of the top-seeded men’s doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, who was stunned by Indonesia’s Muhammad Shohibul Fikri and Maulana Bagas in three games, losing 26-24, 11-21, 17-21 in 62 minutes.
Saina Nehwal, the 2012 London Olympics bronze medallist, joined them on the sidelines as she lost to third seed He Bing Jiao of China, going down 11-21, 14-21 in a women’s singles Round of 16 encounter.
Ashmita went down 21-18, 21-13 to former Olympic and World Champion Carolina Marin of Spain losing 18-21, 13-21.
In the men’s singles clash, Kiran George took an early lead from 2-2 in the first game to go up 6-3 in the match played on Court 2 at the Indoor Stadium Huamark in the Thai capital.
The Chinese shuttler, however, levelled scores at 8-8. But Kiran George went ahead again 12-9 and went on to win 21-11.
The second game was a neck-and-neck battle in which the 23-year-old Indian ranked 59th in the BWF Rankings, shot off to an early 5-2 lead but his Chinese opponent caught up with him at 5-5. Lead changed hands at regular intervals as the players went up to 17-17. Kiran George went up 19-17 but Wang levelled scores again at 19-19. The Indian shuttler now won the next two points to win the match in 39 minutes and advance to the last eight.
Ashmita put up a good fight in the opening game of her Round of 16 clash with Marin, who surged to a 5-0 lead. Ashmita reduced the margin to 4-5 and then 7-8 as she fought for each point. Marin won the next three points (11-7) and then maintained a slight gap as she went on to extend it to 20-13. Ashmita saved five game points and made it 18-20 before Marin won the game 21-18.
In the second game, Marin won five points in a row from 5-4 to open up the lead and did not give the Indian shuttler many chances as she won the game and match at 21-13.
In men’s doubles, Satwik and Chirag fought back from a 7-12 deficit in the first game to level barrow it down to 11-12 before the Indonesians surged to a 12-17 lead. Satwik and Chirag eventually caught up with them at 20-20. After a neck-and-neck battle for the next few points, the Indians, who had six game points, eventually won the game 26-24 to take a 1-0 lead.
However, the Indonesian pair came back strongly in the second game, established an early lead and always maintained a healthy advantage as they won 21-11 to take the match into the decider.
In the third game, Fikri and Bagas took an early lead at 5-1 and though the Indians narrowed it down to 3-5, they extended their lead to 14-7. The Indians reduced the margin to 12-17 but the Indonesian pair went on to win the game 21-17 and sealed a place in the quarterfinals.
Playing against He Bing Jiao, Saina conceded an early 0-4 lead and though the Indian fought back to make it 2-4, the Chinese shuttler won the next five points to make it 9-2. She did not allow Saina any more chances of coming close as she won the opening game 21-11.
He Bing Jiao opened up a 9-2 lead in the second game before Saina reduced the margin to 10-8. The Chinese shuttler maintained her upper hand as she won the second game 21-14 and sealed a comfortable victory.