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All England Open: ‘Tired’ Rankireddy-Shetty lose in second round

After reaching four successive finals on the BWF World Tour, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty’s brilliant run finally came to an end late on Thursday as they exited the prestigious $1.3 million All England Open Badminton Championships, losing in the second round in Birmingham.

India's Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy(PTI)
India’s Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy(PTI)

The top seeds went down 16-21, 15-21 in 41 minutes to Indonesians Muhammad Shohibul Fikri and Maulana Bagas to suffer their third loss in seven outings against the world No.9 combine.

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Barring two brief moments at the start of both games where Rankireddy and Shetty led for a point each, Fikri and Bagas completely dominated both the games.

Despite the presence of two former All England champions – chief national coach Pullela Gopichand and doubles coach Mathias Boe – in their corner, the Asian Games gold medallists weren’t able to create the magic that they have been doing over the last few months.

In their defence, Rankireddy had a heavily strapped right shoulder which clearly affected his performance at the Super 1000 tournament. In addition, Rankrireddy and Shetty looked jaded playing a second successive week, especially after winning the French Open in Paris on Sunday.

“There definitely was some tiredness. We couldn’t put them under pressure. They played a really good game and had a lot of net cords. We didn’t get a chance. Even when we were attacking, they were defending quite well. Then there was some fatigue as well,” said Shetty in the mixed zone.

“Obviously you can’t be in finals every week. We tried to push as much as possible but playing back-to-back weeks does take a toll on your body but nothing to take away from their win.”

With a less-than-100-percent partner, Shetty tried to lift his game but made too many errors. The top seeds regularly came in each other’s way while defending to leave both sides of the court empty which the Indonesians capitalised. Fikri, who is a known for his quick reflexes at the net, produced moments of magic which stumped the Indians but Bagas too backed his partner really well.

“Bagas really played well. They came as if they only wanted to enjoy with a nothing to lose attitude. We got many chances but made too many wrong choices. We weren’t able to keep it simple. We came here not hundred percent, played a little here and there and couldn’t catch up. They played amazing badminton, hitting some strokes we didn’t expect from them,” said Rankireddy.

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