New Delhi: Day 3 of the biggest badminton tournament in the country, the India Open came as a reality check for the badminton fraternity of India.
For the first time since the restart of the India Open in 2008, there won't any Indian featuring in the quarter-final round of the BWF World Tour Super 750 tournament.
India's two biggest hopes and the defending champions in their categories- Lakshya Sen and Satwik Rankireddy/Chirag Shetty bowed out in contrasting fashion.
Lakshya Sen was on his haunches after hitting the shuttle just wide of the backline while Rasmus Gemke roared after defeating the defending champion of the India Open.
Haunting loss for Lakshya
"This loss was a bit hard to take because I was close. I felt really bad about the last point. The crowd was supporting me. I had played well to cover up the game, but the whole game, I kept covering up," a distraught Lakshya told media after the 81-minute marathon match.
All the credit to Rasmus Gemke to hold his fort against a resurgent Lakshya and the crowd which made the arena a battlefield with continuous noise. The Dane bounced back after losing the first game to defeat Lakshya 16-21, 21-15, 21-18.
In the deciding game, after Lakshya went 1-8 down, the crowd didn't stop cheering. Lakshya obliged with a few smashes and forehand placements taking the game 18-19. As unlucky as it was, Gemke's shot deflected off the net to give him the match point.
The last rally felt like an eternity as everyone watched it silently. The last shot which went just over the backline resulted in a contrast of emotions with Gemke falling down on the court in ecstasy while Lakshya sank into his knees.
Satwik/Chirag pull out
The crowd was heartbroken when the news of Satwik Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty pulling out of the India Open 2023 came out with audible gasps in the seating area. Defending champions pulled out due to a groin injury to Satwik.
"Satwik pulled his left hip adductor, so decided to concede the match, "Chirag told the media.
The world No. 5 Indian pair was scheduled to take on China's Liu Yu Chen and Ou Xuan Yi who they had defeated last week in the Malaysia Open.
"I was here to watch India's top men's double pair but now they have pulled out, it looks like India's challenge might end today," a fan told The Bridge at the venue on hearing news of Satwik and Chirag's walkover.
Saina Nehwal struggles
Saina Nehwal's fight against World number 3 Chen Yu Fei didn't last long as the shuttler was defeated comprehensively in 32 minutes.
Given her injury woes in recent times, the winner of the game was known before the last point was scored. Chen was relentless and Saina made multiple errors to give her opponent more advantage.
Earlier, it hardly came as a surprise as two other Indian pairs - G. Krishna Prasad-P. Vishnuvardhan Goud and Treesa Jolly-P. Gayatri - surrendered tamely to their Chinese rivals.
The worst fear of Indian badminton fans came true as there won't be any Indian playing in the arena to cheer during the weekends.