French Open 2023: Kidambi Srikanth, Lakshya Sen suffer humiliating first-round exits
Srikanth suffered a 17-21, 21-15 defeat to Toma Junior Popov in 44 minutes, while Arnaud Merkle defeated Lakshya Sen 21-15, 21-18 in 55 minutes. With their defeats, India's challenge in men's singles ended at French Open Super 750.
Star shuttlers Kidambi Srikanth and Lakshya Sen suffered straight-game defeats in their respective first-round matches at the French Open Super 750 on Wednesday. With their exits, India's challenge in men's singles at the prestigious World Tour event came to an end.
Srikanth suffered a 17-21, 21-15 defeat to Toma Junior Popov in 44 minutes, while Arnaud Merkle defeated Lakshya Sen 21-15, 21-18 in 55 minutes. Catch highlights
Srikanth, who entered into Rennes' Glaz Arnea with a 3-1 head-to-head record over Popov, was punished for his error-prone game.
With too many mistakes on the backcourt and hard pushes that went wide, he conceded several easy points to Popov, who won against Srikanth for the first since 2021.
This was world no. 22 Srikanth's second straight first-round exit in consecutive weeks. Last week, he lost to Weng Hong Yang at the Denmark Open Super 750.
Lakshya Sen, on the other hand, struggled to cope with the drift in the air on Court 2 in the first game as his opponent Merkle, ranked 44th in the world, raced away to a 7-4 lead as the Indian shuttler hit the shuttle wide and long.
World no. 17 Lakshya, however, brought to display his magic with a deceptive drop shot that saw Merkle falling flat on his chest. Yet, the 23-year-old French player played with great determination and zeal to trouble Lakshya with his deft placement and smashes from a towering height.
Lakshya would fight back at 11-11, showing hope of a recovery. But five consecutive points for Merkle meant there was no more chance for the Indian youngster to stage a comeback in the game. Merkle won the opening game 21-15.
In the second game, a neck-to-neck battle followed, with both players managing to stay in the game till the very end. Despite Lakshya's great fightback, Merkle managed to retain an 11-10 lead at the interval.
Lakshya, though, won points for his game awareness, precise flat smashes and forcing Merkle to make three frustrating errors near the end, lost the game from a 17-14 lead. Merkle quickly marched to a lead of 20-18 and then capitalised on an unforced error by Lakshya, who made a humiliating first-round exit, losing to a player ranked 27 places behind him in the world rankings.
This was Lakshya's fourth straight first-round exit on the World Tour, first against Merkle.
On Thursday, PV Sindhu in the women's singles and men's doubles duo of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty will be in action in their respective pre-quarterfinal matches.