French Open badminton: Saina Nehwal ousted, Satwik/Chirag win on bad day for Indians

Former World No 1 Saina Nehwal crashed out in the first round of the French Open badminton championship as Indian players had a poor day in the BWF World Tour Super 750 event.

The men’s doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty was the only one to survive the opening round as Ishaan Bhatnagar and Tanisha Crasto went down in the mixed doubles first round while the women’s doubles pair of Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand too went down to the sixth-seeded Thai pair of Jongkolphan Kititharakul and Rawinda Prajongjai.

In the women’s singles, the unseeded Saina, a former champion in French Open, went down fighting to Yvonne Li of Germany at the Stade Pierre de Coubertin, losing 21-13, 17-21, 19-21 in an encounter that lasted a few seconds less than one hour.

Saina won the first game 21-13, opening up a lead from 5-5 as she opened a 9-5 lead and then 13-7 as she surged ahead to 18-12. In the second game, Saina caught up with her opponent at 5-5 before the German opened an 11-6 lead. Saina reduced the lead to 10-12 but Yvonne widened the gap to 18-12. Saina once again fought back and reduced the margin to 17-19 before the German player went on to win the game 21-17.

The decider was closely fought as the lead changed hands at regular intervals as neither player gave an inch. Things went neck-and-neck till 17-17 before the German player went on to win the third game 21-19 and emerged the winner.

In men’s doubles, the World No.8 pair of Satwik and Chirag came back from a game down to win in three games, beating French siblings Cristo Popov and Toma Junior Popov, winning 19-21, 21-9, 21-13 in just over an hour on the court.

The Indian pair won 61 of the 104 rallies while the French duo had to be satisfied with 43 points. After losing a closely fought first game, the Indians dominated the second, won six consecutive points, and converted the first game point they claimed as they won the game 21-9. They steadily opened a gap from 9-8 and widened it to 15-10 and went on to win the game and match at 21-13.

Treesa and Gayatri went down to the Thailand pair 21-23, 20-22 as they found the going tough against the experienced and higher-ranked combination. The same was the case with the mixed doubles pair of Ishaan Bhatnagar and Tanisha Crasto as they made an exit from the tournament, losing 13-21, 16-21 to Kyohei Yamashita and Naru Shinoya of Japan.

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