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 $1 million China Open.
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 stuck to our plans so it became a little easy in the end,” Satwik told agencies.
The Indian pair will face top seed Chinese combination of Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong.
Seventh seed 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, men’s doubles pair of Satwik and Chirag Shetty, who had won a silver at the Commonwealth Games, 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.