Japan Open 2017: Disappointing defeats for Srikanth and Prannoy, Chopra-Reddy keep Indian hopes alive
After PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal's exits on Thursday, it was a disappointing day for two of India's biggest badminton stars as Srikanth Kidambi and HS Prannoy bowed out at the quarterfinal stage of the Japan Open Super Series 2017.
The Indian challenge is alive though at the competition in the mixed doubles, thanks to the exploits of Pranaav Jerry Chopra and Sikki Reddy, who won their match in tremendous fashion and entered the semifinal.
Singles stars bow out
The first match of the day featuring an Indian shuttler saw HS Prannoy go down in straight games to Chinese shuttler Shi Yuqi, the second seed in the men's singles draw. Prannoy had earlier not dropped a game in his previous two wins against Anders Antonsen and Hsu Jen Hao but offered little resistance against Yuqi.
The match lasted 45 minutes and in the first game, the players shared the first 10 points at 5-5. However, the Chinese shuttler the picked up the pace and won the next four points to build up a strong lead, which he did not concede throughout the game. He gained seven game points at 20-13 and converted on his third attempt, taking the first 21-15.
The second was a similar affair as well, with the scores locked at 5-5 before the Yuqi picked up the pace and remained in front throughout. From 19-12, he closed out the game and match at 21-14 to secure his berth in the final four.
Srikanth Kidambi was the other Indian in the fray in the men's singles and he too, bowed out in straight games. Up against the indomitable Viktor Axelsen, he gave a good account of himself but it was not enough to get past the reigning world champion, as the match ended 21-17 21-17 in favour of the Dane.
Lasting 40 minutes, the match was a tight affair but when it came to crunch situations, Axelsen dug deep to win the crucial points. The first game was evenly poised at 17-17 but a tremendous surge from the third seed saw him take the next four points and the game.
The second game, though, saw Axelsen in control and with the scores at 12-12, he raced into a three-point lead and showed no signs of conceding it either. He closed out the game at 21-17, ending India's hopes in the men's singles in the process.
Chopra-Reddy record brilliant win
However, the nation's shuttlers have a shot at the Japan Open Super Series crown in the mixed doubles category, thanks to a brilliant display by the pairing of Pranaav Jerry Chopra and Sikki Reddy.
Up against the Korean pairing of Seung Jae Seo and Kim Ha Na, the Indian duo won the first game 21-18, before losing the second 9-21. In the decider, they showed nerves of steel to clinch it 21-19, taking the last two points of the match from 19-19 and entering the semifinal after a 58-minute titanic battle.
They will now face the unseeded Japanese duo of Takuro Hoki and Sayaka Hirota, against whom they will certainly fancy their chances and hope for a place in Sunday's final.