Thursday, February 9, 2023

India Open: Sen, Saina lose; Satwik-Chirag pull out as home challenge ends

Defending champion Lakshya Sen suffered a heartbreak, going down narrowly to world number 20 Rasmus Gemke of Denmark in the second round as the Indian ended at the Yonex-Sunrise India Open here on Thursday.
World no. 12 Sen reduced an 8-14 deficit in the decider to 13-14 after losing the second game but couldn’t go the distance, losing 21-16 15-21 18-21 to Gemke in a match that lasted an hour and 21 minutes at the IG stadium.
Reigning champions in men’s doubles, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, who had come into the tournament after a semifinal finish at Malaysia Super 1000 last week, withdrew from the tournament after the former suffered a hip injury ahead of their second-round clash.
London Games bronze medallist Saina Nehwal also found the going tough against Olympic champion Chen Yufei, surrendering meekly 9-21 12-21 in just 32 minutes to draw curtains on India’s campaign at the Super 750 tournament.
Earlier, Commonwealth Games bronze medallists Gayatri Gopichand and Treesa Jolly lost 9-21 16-21 to sixth-seeded Chinese Zhang Shu Xian and Zheng Yu in women’s doubles pre-quarterfinals.
The rising men’s doubles pair of Krishna Prasad Garaga and Vishnuvardhan Goud Panjala also was no match for China’s Liang Wei Keng and Wang Chang, going down 14-21 10-21 in 33 minutes.
Sen was favourite to win the match, having won the last two encounters against Gemke but the Indian couldn’t find his ‘A’ game when it mattered as the Dane showed better alertness and control to come up trumps.
The match started on an even knell with the two engaging in long rallies. Both played high tosses and clears, and waited to put away weak returns.
“It is a disappointing start in the decider, going 1-8 down is not acceptable. I played well to cover up the game but it was not enough in the end. I think few decisions here and there and I could have played more bravely in the end but a silly error in the end,” a disappointed Sen said. “It is hard to take, I was this close. I am feeling really bad about the last point. I was trying something new because my strategy was not working but I should have played with more patience.
“I wasn’t not getting the rhythm in the third game. He was playing better length in the second and third games, so I was not able to finish the shuttle faster. The lead helped him to play flashy in a few points. As I was under pressure, my rally game was not patient enough.”
Gemke will now take on top seed and compatriot Viktor Axelsen, who outwitted China’s Shi Yu Qi 21-16 16-21 21-9.
Also advancing to the next round were fourth seed Jonatan Christie of Indonesia, third seed Loh Kean Yew of Singapore and fifth seed Chou Tien Chen of Chinese Taipei in men’s singles.
Top seed Akane Yamaguchi of Japan, Spaniard Carolina Marin and He Bingjiao of China also made it to the quarters in women’s singles.

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