Indian mixed doubles pairing of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Ashwini Ponnappa on Wednesday shocked Commonwealth Games silver medallists England’s Marcus Ellis and Lauren Smith to enter the pre-quarterfinals of the USD 1 million China Open here.
World No. 25 Satwiksairaj and Ashwini, who had lost twice to the English combination in the past, executed their plan well to notch up a 21-13 20-22 21-17 win in a match that lasted an hour and three minutes.
“It was a good match. We were pretty confident today at crucial moments. We struck to our plans so it became a little easy in the end,” Satwik told PTI.
The Indian pair will face top seed Chinese combination of Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong.
Seventh seed K Srikanth, who had reached the quarterfinals last week at Japan Open, too was through to the pre-quarterfinals after beating Denmark’s Rasmus Gemke 21-9 21-19 to set up a meeting with Thailand’s Suppanyu Avihingsanon.
However, H S Prannoy lost his first round match against eighth seed Ng Ka Long Angus of Hong Kong 16-21, 12-21 to make an early exit from the tournament.
The men’s doubles pair of Satwik and Chirag Shetty, who had won a silver at the Commonwealth Games, also lost 19-21 20-22 to Goh V Shem and Tan Wee Kiong of Malaysia.
CWG bronze medallists Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy also went down 10-21 18-21 to Korean combination of Kim So Yeong and Kong Hee Yong in women’s doubles.
The mixed doubles match turned out to be a hard-fought battle right from the start as the Indian and English pair moved together till 4-4. Satwik and Ashwini then reeled off four points to open up a 8-4 lead. From there on, the duo kept its distance to grab the opening game without much ado.
In the second game, Marcus and Lauren jumped to a 6-1 lead before grabbing a 6 advantage at the break. The Indian pair however slowly fought its way to level at 20-20 but the English combination produced the required two points to stay in the contest.
In the decider, Satwik and Ashwin stepped up and surged to a 7-1 advantage. The duo led 11-5 at the breather. After the break, Marcus and Lauren managed to narrow the gap to 13-15 but the Indian duo marched ahead to 18-13 and eventually sealed the match.