Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty in action© AFP
Asian Games gold medalists Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty crashed out in the opening round to make a shocking exit from the Japan Masters Super 500 badminton tournament on Tuesday. The top-seeded Indian combination went down 21-16 18-21 16-21 to world number 21 Lu Ching Yao and Yang Po Han of Chinese Taipei in a 63-minute match. Satwik and Chirag, ranked 5th in the world, beat Lu and Yang in last year’s French Open final but could not match the Taiwanese pair, who produced a spirited performance to defeat the Indians. The Indians erased an early 0-3 deficit to take an 11-7 lead. Lu and Yang found themselves tied 13-13 but Satwik and Chirag managed to keep their noses in front before taking the opening game with four straight points.
The second game was a tough battle as the advantage changed hands too often and the Taiwanese managed to hold on to 11-9 at the time.
Satwik and Chirag kept breathing down their necks but Lu and Yang broke away at 14-14 to take the match to a decider.
The third game followed the same script with both pairs involved in a slugfest. From 6-6, Lu and Yang won four of the next five points to make it 7-10.
Satwik and Chirag drew the parity but Lu and Yang were relentless as they dominated the rallies and feasted on the Indian weakness to seal the issue with little delay in the end.
HS Prannoy, Lakshya Sen and Priyanshu Rajawat will start their campaign on Wednesday.
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