Rankireddy’s Mixed Fortunes – Day 2: Fuzhou China Open 2018

Satwiksairaj Rankireddy rebounded from a disappointing Mixed Doubles loss to savour hard-fought success in Men’s Doubles as he and Chirag Shetty sent the No. 7 seeds packing today at the Fuzhou China Open 2018.

Extra points were needed in both games before the Indian partnership triumphed against Mads Conrad-Petersen and Mads Pieler Kolding, 23-21 24-22, at Haixia Olympic Sports Center.

Except for a five-point advantage at 13-8 in the second game, Rankireddy and Shetty (featured image) were locked in neck-and-neck battles with their Danish opponents in both games which could have gone either way. However, they exhibited nerves of steel to grab both games on their fourth opportunities to progress to a second-round clash with Wahyu Nayaka Arya Pangkaryanira and Ade Yusuf Santoso of Indonesia. The latter fought back from 7-11 down in the decider to beat Thailand’s Kittinupong Kedren and Dechapol Puavaranukroh, 21-15 21-23 21-17, in an hour.

Earlier in the day, Rankireddy had been on the losing end as he and Ashwini Ponnappa failed to convert a good start versus Olympic silver medallists, Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying. The Malaysians regrouped from dropping the opener to take the honours, 18-21 21-19 21-17. They will face Praveen Jordan/Melati Daeva Oktavianti for a place in the quarter-finals. The Indonesian pair enjoyed a confidence-boosting win over English couple, Chris and Gabby Adcock, 21-6 21-16.

Another Mixed Doubles surprise was the demise of Tang Chun Man/Tse Ying Suet. The Hongkongers fell to young Chinese, Ou Xuanyi/Feng Xueying; 21-17 21-18. It proved a great day at the office for Ou who also advanced in Men’s Doubles with Ren Xiangyu. They ousted Takuto Inoue/Yuki Kaneko (21-13 21-17) – in the process denting the Japanese pair’s chances of qualifying for the HSBC BWF World Tour Finals next month. Inoue/Kaneko are currently in ninth place in the Men’s Doubles Race To Guangzhou, with only the top eight finishers eligible to compete in the year-end showpiece.

In Women’s Doubles, Lee So Hee/Shin Seung Chan needed three games – 19-21 22-20 21-15 – to derail Canada’s Rachel Honderich/Kristen Tsai. The Koreans were joined in the second round by their team-mates, Kim Hye Jeong/Kong Hee Yong. Two Chinese pairs were also victorious – Li Wenmei/Zheng Yu and Dong Wenjing/Feng Xueying – as were Thailand’s Jongkolphan Kititharakul/Rawinda Prajongjai. They rebounded to topple Chinese Taipei’s Hsu Ya Ching/Hu Ling Fang (11-21 25-23 21-11).

Meanwhile, Women’s Singles showcased some nail-biting encounters with top contenders battling to fight another day.

China’s Chen Yufei clawed from 16-19 down in the third game – and then snuffed out two match points – to survive against Sayaka Sato. The 20-year-old won 13-21 21-10 24-22 against her Japanese rival. Sato’s team-mate, Akane Yamaguchi, held off the fast-improving Mia Blichfeldt of Denmark. Seeded second – but essentially the top seed here due to Tai Tzu Ying’s absence – the tough Japanese dug deep for her 21-18 18-21 21-19 triumph. Olympic champion Carolina Marin was also extended the distance versus Cai Yanyan but prevailed 21-13 15-21 21-15 against the Chinese. There were no such worries for Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon who routed Indonesia’s Lyanny Alessandra Mainaky (21-9 21-8) while USA’s Beiwen Zhang made light work of Israel’s Ksenia Polikarpova (21-14 21-11). Other players who advanced were Michelle Li (Canada); Chen Xiaoxin and Han Yue (China); and Pornpawee Chochuwong (Thailand).

Men’s Singles front-runners in the Race To Guangzhou, Chou Tien Chen and Tommy Sugiarto, maintained their good form, both reaching the second round. Sugiartio – currently second behind Chou in the rankings – swatted aside Hong Kong’s Wong Wing Ki, 21-8 21-10. The Indonesian will oppose No.5 seed, Kidambi Srikanth of India, for a quarter-final berth. Kidambi romped past France’s Lucas Corvee, 21-12 21-16. Fourth-seeded Chou produced another of his trademark comebacks to get the better of Korea’s Lee Dong Keun; the Chinese Taipei ace winning 18-21 21-16 21-12 in 73 mins.

There were also victories for Huang Yuxiang and Shi Yuqi (China); Jonatan Christie and Anthony Ginting (Indonesia); Kenta Nishimoto and Kazumasa Sakai (Japan); Son Wan Ho (Korea); and Liew Daren (Malaysia) while Denmark’s Anders Antonsen saved a match point to beat veteran Lee Hyun Il of Korea, 18-21 21-13 22-20.

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