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All England Open 2017: Dismal day for Indian shuttlers in qualifying rounds

Ashwini Ponnappa and Sikki Reddy were the only Indians who won a round before narrowly losing their final round of qualifying.

Sourabh Verma
National champion Sourabh Verma bows out after putting up a valiant fight

It was a disappointing start for the Indian contingent at the All England Open Badminton Championships as none of the shuttlers, who were playing the qualifying rounds, managed to make it to the main draw on Tuesday. The Verma brothers – Sourabh and Sameer – were in contention in men’s singles while Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy were aiming for a berth in women’s doubles in the season’s first Superseries Premier event.

The reigning national champion Sourabh had the biggest heartbreak of them all as he held a match point but squandered it to go down to the fourth-seeded Anthony Sinisuka Ginting of Indonesia, 10-21, 21-14, 20-22 in 57 minutes.

The 24-year-old was initially trailing 7-17 in the final game but put up a brave fight after that to shave off the huge gap and even went up 20-19. An error on match point cost him dearly as the World No. 32 did not give him any more chance and took the next three points to dash Sourabh’s hopes.

His younger brother, Sameer was seeded third in the qualifying rounds. Unfortunately, he could not make the most of this opportunity despite facing Japan’s Kazumasa Sakai, who is 29 places below the 23rd ranked Verma. The Syed Modi International winner failed to put up any resistance and succumbed to a 17-21, 12-21 defeat in 41 minutes.

Ponnappa/Reddy win a round before bowing out

The Syed Modi International runners-up Ashwini Ponnappa and Sikki Reddy were the only Indians who won a round before narrowly losing their final round of qualifying.

In the first round, they overcame a 17-20 deficit to win a marathon over the English pair of Lauren Smith and Sarah Walker, 21-17, 16-21, 24-22 that lasted 1 hour 5 minutes. They, however, fell short of replicating that effort in the next round and went down fighting 15-21, 21-18, 18-21 to the fourth-seeded Swiss-Malaysian duo of Nadia Fankhauser and Sannatasah Saniru.

The veteran Ponnappa later admitted to the ESPN that the shuttle has been moving slowly on the Birmingham courts and the Indians found it difficult to adjust to that.

“Normally we get points you get quite easily as the courts are fast. Here, since the shuttles move relatively slow, you cannot expect quick points,” said the 27-year-old.

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