Syed Modi International: Sameer Verma, Satwik-Chirag pair knocked out

In women’s singles, Olympic champion Carolina Marin led two other remaining seeds into the second round with a straight games defeat of Linda Zetchiri.

Ajay Jayaram in action during his upset win over two-time defending champion Sameer Verma.   -  Special Arrangement

As though the unprecedented pullout of seeded players was not enough to impact the quality of play in the $150,000 Syed Modi International badminton tournament here, the stunning first-round exits of men’s top seed Shi Yuqi and two-time defending champion Sameer Verma have further squeezed the already-limited ‘star appeal.’

World No. 7 Shi Yuqi, the 2018 World championship finalist, was destined to open this week’s ‘casualty list’ after running into unseeded Malaysian Soo Tech Zhi. The 25-23, 21-17 defeat of the favourite clearly consolidated the hopes of the Indians dominating the men’s singles draw.

Notwithstanding the 15-21, 21-18, 21-13 defeat of Sameer to the vastly-experienced Ajay Jayaram, there were ample home contenders to ensure another Indian winner.

Kidambi Srikanth and B. Sai Praneeth won in straight games while P. Kashyap and Lakshya Sen joined them after their French rivals did not turn up.

After cricketer-turned coach Rahul Dravid was seen spending time with Srikanth in the stands, H. S. Prannoy battled back from being two points away from a straight-game defeat to beat China’s Li Shifeng 18-21, 22-20, 21-13 in 72 minutes.

Later, the shocking exit of men’s doubles second seeds Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty underlined the inconsistency that plagues the Indians.

During the 39-minute clash, the World No. 13 duo was way off the flash of form displayed in recent tournaments. Ranked 36th and China’s sixth strongest pair, Di Zijian and Wang Chang stayed in control to script a 21-12, 23-21 triumph after converting the second match-point. The Indians were left to rue the unutilized game-point at 21-20.

Ashwini Ponnappa and N. Sikki Reddy, the eighth seeded women’s pair escaped a similar fate. They survived a three-game ‘test’ against Hong Kong’s Ng Tsz Yau and Yuen Sin Ying to win 21-13, 16-21, 21-19.

However, the much-travelled duos of Pooja Dandu and Sanjana Santosh along with J. Meghna and Poorvisha S. Ram, ranked second and third in the country, made yet another first-round exit.

In women’s singles, Olympic champion Carolina Marin led two other remaining seeds into the second round. In an all-Thailand match, Phittayaporn Chaiwan took out seventh seed Pornpawee Chochuwong 21-15, 20-22, 21-14.

 

Leading first-round results (Indians unless stated)

Men singles: Soo Teck Zhi (Mal) bt Shi Yuqi (Chn) 25-23, 21-17; K.Srikanth bt Vladimir Malkov (Rus) 21-12, 21-11; Son Wan Ho (Kor) bt
Ansal Yadav 21-12, 21-16; P. Kashyap received a walkover from Lucas Corvee (Fra); B. Sai Praneeth bt Iskandar Zulkarnain (Mal) 21-16,
22-20; Ajay Jayaram bt Sameer Verma 15-21, 21-18, 21-13; Sourabh Verma bt Xiaodong Sheng (Can) 21-11, 21-16. Lakshya Sen received a walkover from Thomas Rouxel (Fra); H. S. Prannoy bt Li Shifeng (Chn) 18-21, 22-20, 21-13; Siril Verma bt Huang Ping-Hsien (Tpe) 12-21, 21-15, 21-3.

Men doubles: Di Zijian and Wang Chang (Chn) bt Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty 21-12, 23-21; Siddarth Jakhar and Shubham Yadav bt Manu Attri and B. Sumeeth Reddy 4-0 (retd.)

Women singles: Carolina Marin (Esp) bt Linda Zetchiri (Bul) 21-16, 21-11; Zhang Yiman (Chn) bt Anura Prabhudesai 21-19, 21-8; Shruti
Mundada bt Riya Mookerjee 17-21, 21-12, 21-13; Rituparna Das bt Yip Pui Yin (Hkg) 21-19, 21-19; Tanvi Lad bt Natalia Perminova (Rus) 21-18, 17-21, 21-16; Chloe Birch (Eng) bt C. Sai Uttejitha Rao 21-10, 19-21, 21-15.

Women doubles: Ashwini Ponnappa and N. Sikki Reddy bt Ng Tsz Yau and Yuen Sin Ying (Hkg) 21-13, 16-21, 21-19; Saranchana Chaikittiwat and Supissara Paewsampran (Tha) bt  Pooja Dandu and Sanjana Santosh 21-19, 21-14; Baek Ha Na and Jung Kyung Eun (Kor) bt J. Meghna and Poorvisha S. Ram 21-14, 21-7.