What's the story?
PV Sindhu moved ahead to the quarter-finals but Lakshya Sen and the women's doubles pair of Ashwini Ponnappa and Sikki Reddy crashed out in the 2nd round of the All England Open Badminton Championships.
In case you didn't know...
The All England Open Badminton Championships is being held in Birmingham from 11th to 15th March 2020. It is a Super 1000 event of the Badminton World Federation (BWF) World Tour.
The Indian badminton stars are participating in the tournament with the hope of garnering enough ranking points to enable them to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics 2020.
But the 1st round results did not go as per expectation with only PV Sindhu in the women's singles event, Lakshya Sen in the men's singles event and the pair of Ashwini Ponnappa and Sikki Reddy in the women's doubles event making it through to the 2nd round.
Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth, who are in a race against time to qualify for the Olympics, had to bite the dust in the 1st round itself. Sai Praneeth, who is virtually assured of a spot at the Tokyo Olympics, was also knocked out in the 1st round on Wednesday.
Heart of the matter
It was a mixed day for India at the All England Open Badminton Championships 2020 with PV Sindhu making it through to the quarter-finals but Lakshya Sen and the women's doubles pair of Ashwini Ponnappa and Sikki Reddy lost their respective 2nd round encounters to bow out of the tournament.
Lakshya, the first Indian to take to the court on the second day of the championships, was defeated by the 2nd seeded Viktor Axelsen of Denmark 21-17, 21-18 in two closely fought games in the men's singles second round match.
Lakshya, the World No. 29, was quicker off the block in the 1st game and took a 3-0 lead. But Axelsen, the former World No. 1, fought back to take the next 5 points for a 5-3 lead. It was a neck and neck battle from then on but the Dane went into the mid-game interval with an 11-8 lead. Although Lakshya fought back to take a 13-12 lead, Axelsen pulled away to close the game 21-17 in his favour.
Axelsen continued with the momentum at the start of the 2nd game and raced away to a 5-1 lead. But Lakshya was not willing to give up the fight and came back to take an 8-7 lead. It was a keenly fought contest from then on with the lanky Dane going into the interval with a 11-10 advantage. But with the score level at 15-15, Axelsen asserted his superiority to take a 19-15 lead. Although Lakshya narrowed the margin to 18-19, the Dane won the next 2 points to close out the game and with it the match 21-17, 21-18.
Sindhu defeated Sung Ji Hyun of South Korea 21-19, 21-15 in the women's singles second round match to advance to the quarter-finals.
Sindhu, the World No. 6, started off well in the 1st game and took a 6-2 lead. She maintained the advantage and went into the mid-game interval with an 11-7 lead. But Sung, the World No. 12, fought back to draw parity at 13-13 and both players were almost on an equal footing from then on. After being down 18-19, Sindhu reeled off the next 3 points in a row to close the 1st game 21-19.
Both the players were neck and neck at the start of the 2nd game with the scores level at 7-7. Sindhu pulled ahead from that point to go into the interval with an 11-8 lead. After the interval, she consolidated this lead to close out the 2nd game and the match 21-19, 21-15.
Ashwini and Sikki were defeated by Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi of Japan 21-13, 21-14 in the women's doubles second round encounter.
The 1st game started on an even keel with neither of the pairs able to take a big lead. But with the score level at 8-8, the Japanese pair surged ahead to take an 11-8 lead at the mid-game interval. They consolidated this lead post the interval and did not allow the Indian pair to come back into the game. They won 6 of the last 7 points to close the game 21-13 in their favour.
The start of the 2nd game was similar to the first with both the pairs going neck and neck. But this time it was the Indians who went into the mid-game interval with an 11-9 lead. The Japanese pair seized the initiative post the interval as they won 5 consecutive points from 14-13 to take a 19-13 lead. They held on to the advantage to close the match 21-13, 21-14.
Sindhu will face the winner of the match between Nozomi Okuhara and Line Kjaersfeldt in her quarterfinal encounter.
The other Indian singles players will have to raise their game several notches in the upcoming tournaments if they have to harbour any hopes of qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics 2020.
Also Checkout: Badminton Schedule 2020