Defending champions Lakshya Sen and men’s doubles combination of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty began their title defence of the Yonex-Sunrise India Open 2023 with comfortable victories on the opening day of the competition at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium in New Delhi on Tuesday.
Sen defeated compatriot HS Prannoy 21-14, 21-15 in the men’s singles while Satwik and Chirag beat Scotland’s Christopher and Matthew Grimley 21-13, 21-15 to advance to the next round.
There were no surprise upsets in the morning session of the HSBC BWF World Tour Super 750 event with former women’s champion Ratchnok Intanon of Thailand, Spaniard Carolina Marin and China’s men’s singles star Shi Yu Qi advancing in contrasting fashion.
The second first-round clash between Sen and Prannoy had been the talk of the town and with both players locked 3-3 in head-to-head after last week’s Malaysia Open face-off, everyone was expecting another close encounter on home turf.
Sen’s strong defence and relatively slower playing conditions meant that Prannoy needed to come up with something special to pack off his younger opponent. But the defending champion showed how difficult it would be to breach his defence in the initial exchanges and opened up a 11-3 lead and never looked back in that game.
Prannoy managed to keep pace with Sen at the start of the second game but the youngster opened up a two-point lead at the break and then kept things flat and fast to close out the match in 45 minutes.
He will now take on Denmark’s Rasmus Gemke, who got the better of former World No. 1 Kento Momota of Japan 21-15, 21-11 in the first match of the day.
“I am happy that I could begin from where I left last year. In Malaysia, I could not control the shuttle in the match against Prannoy but today the conditions were quite good and I could control the shuttle quite well. Tomorrow, is a rest day and I hope to continue playing like this after that,” Sen said after the match.
Among the other Indians in the fray, the women’s doubles combination of Gayatri Gopichand and Treesa Jolly had to hold their nerves to get the better of the French combination of Margot Lambert and Anne Tran 22-20, 17-21, 21-18. They will next face the Chinese sixth seeded combination of Zhang Shu Xian and Zheng Yu, who defeated Ashna Roy and Haritha MH 21-4, 21-2.
Earlier, Marin came up triumphant in the clash of two former world champions beating Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara 21-13, 21-18 in 39 minutes.
Both Marin and Okuhara had struggled in 2022 due to injuries and are still finding their feet on the world circuit. The Spaniard was first to get off the blocks after the initial exchanges closed out the opening game rather easily.
Okuhara then began mixing things up by pushing her opponent to the backhand court and won a few points when Marin tried to judge the shuttle instead of going for the overhead. This ploy helped the Japanese to open up a 12-8 lead before the Spaniard raised the tempo of the rallies.
Marin first weaved together a series of five straight to take the lead and then closed out the match with another set of five straight points. She will now meet sixth seed Ratchanok, who defeated Malaysia’s Goh Jin Wei 21-13, 21-11 in her first-round clash.
(Men’s singles) Rasmus Gemke (DEN) bt Kento Momota (JPN) 21-15, 21-11; 7-Lakshya Sen (IND) bt HS Prannoy (IND) 21-14, 21-15; Shi Yu Qi (CHN) bt Chico Aura Dwi Wardoyo (INA) 20-22, 21-16, 21-15; 4-Jonatan Christie (INA) bt Brian Yang (CAN) 21-14, 21-9; 5-Chou Tien Chen (TPE) bt Lee Cheuk Yiu (HKG) 22-20, 14-21, 21-11.
(Women’s singles) Carolina Marin (ESP) bt Nozomi Okuhara (JPN) 21-13, 21-18; 6-Ratchanok Intanon (THA) bt Goh Jin Wei (MAS) 21-13, 21-11
(Men’s Doubles) 5-Satwiksairaj Rankireddy/Chirag Shetty (IND) bt Christopher Grimley/Matthew Grimley (SCO) 21-13, 21-15
(Women’s doubles) Gayatri Gopichand/Treesa Jolly (IND) bt Margot Lambert/Anne Tran (FRA) 22-20, 17-21, 21-18; Linda Efler/Isabel Lohau (GER) bt Shruti Mishra/Sikki Reddy (IND) 21-17, 21-19; 6-Zhang Shu Xian/Zheng Yu (CHN) bt Ashna Roy/Haritha MH (IND) 21-4, 21-2.