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Malaysia Open: Satwik-Chirag enters men’s doubles quarterfinals, Ashwini-Tanisha too win; Srikanth loses

India’s Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty continued their impressive run to advance to the men’s doubles quarterfinals but Kidambi Srikanth failed to cross the second round at Malaysia Open Super 1000 badminton tournament here on Thursday.

World No. 2 Satwik and Chirag, who had a stellar run in 2023 with six titles, beat France’s world No. 36 Lucas Corvee and Ronan Labar 21-11 21-18 to set up a clash with China’s world No. 32 He Ji Ting and Ren Xiang Yu.

The Indian women’s doubles pair of Ashwini Ponnappa and Tanisha Crasto, who claimed the Guwahati Masters super 100 title last month, shocked seventh seeded Japanese pair of Wakana Nagahara and Mayu Matsumoto 21-19, 13-21, 21-15 to inch closer in their effort to qualify for the Paris Olympics.

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Srikanth, however, failed to rein in his errors and went down 13-21 17-21 to Hong Kong’s Ng Ka Long Angus in the second round.

Satwik and Chirag, the Asian Games gold medallists, dished out an aggressive game to gallop to 11-2 lead at the break in the opening game. A seven-point burst after resumption gave the French pair hope as they made it 12-14.

But the Indian combination soon found their bearing to run away with the opening game after gathering the remaining seven points on the trot.

The Indians, however, wouldn’t have been prepared for what came next as Corvee and Labar came out blazing on to take an 11-4 cushion in the interval.

From 4-11, Satwik and Chirag, however, made it 16-16 with Chirag and Satwik once again scripting a remarkable recovery.

Once the French went long, the Indians had the advantage. Labar pounced on a weak return to keep themselves in the hunt. A deception from Chirag, followed by a flat exchange, gave India three match points. They squandered one before Labar served into the net.

Earlier, a series of unforced errors and bad line judgements put Srikanth, world ranked 24, on the back foot as world No. 20 Ka Long looked in fine fettle during the 38-minute men’s singles match.

Srikanth had a promising start as he led 6-1 at one stage but his inconsistencies in execution once again came to the fore as Ka Long reeled off six straight points to turn the tables.

The Hong Kong player, who had come into the match after losing twice to the Indians in last two meetings, gained in confidence and another six-point burst put him in command as Srikanth crumbled.

In the second game, Srikanth looked to take more initiative initially and managed to eke out a slender 11-10 lead with a jump cross-court smash.

But Ka long, who has a good record against Indian players, quickly turned the tables again to lead 14-12, as Srikanth failed to recover in time to reach a shot during a rally.

The Indian tried to extend the rallies but Ka Long was relentless with his retrievals and showed exquisite touch. Soon the Hong Kong player was up 17-12.

The Indian gathered a few quick points with Ka Long committing a series of unforced errors to narrow the deficit to 16-18.

Soon, a backhand flick came to Ka Long’s rescue as he deposed a smash kill from Srikanth and then sent one at the backline, which the Indian could not reach. Srikanth, next, sprayed into net to end his agony.

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