The Indian shuttlers enjoyed a disappointing day as the badminton season's first Super 500 tournament, the Malaysia Masters, got underway on Tuesday in Kuala Lumpur. Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, India's top-ranked doubles pair, lost to Ong Yew Sin and Teo Ee Yi of Malaysia 15-21, 21-18, 15-21 in the first round of men's doubles, the likes of Lakshya Sen and Subhankar Dey suffered defeats in the qualification stage.
Following a breakthrough season where they ascended new heights, a lot was expected of Satwik and Chirag. However, they both found it tough to get going in the opening match of the new season. The Indian pair gained an early lead, though, and went into the breather at 11-8.
However, Ong and Teo, backed by a vociferous crowd, fought hard and drew level. Then, they rallied to take the first game 21-15 and shock Satwik-Chirag. While the local lads played well, Satwik and Chirag were themselves guilty of making a lot of judgement and unforced errors.
In the second game, it was a much tighter contest right from the word go. But after the mid-game break, the Indian duo started finding their form and gaining momentum. They quickly took a four-point advantage at 16-12 and then, wrapped it up 21-18 to force a decider.
Ong and Teo, though, were not one to sit back. They upped their game in the decider and started maintaining a two-three point advantage. As the third game reached the midway break stage, the score read 11-9 in favour of the Malaysians. Satwik just did not seem to find his mojo as he kept finding the net with his smashes and drop shots. And in the end, they had to accept defeat.
Lakshya, Subhankar crash out in qualifiers
There were no positives from the first day of this Super 500 tournament elsewhere either. In the men's singles qualification stage, both Lakshya Sen and Subhankar Dey lost their respective matches and crashed out.
Elsewhere, in women's doubles qualification stage, the pair of Pooja Dandu and Sanjana Santosh were handed defeat by Siti Fadia Silva Ramadhanti and Ribka Sugiarto of Indonesia 15-21, 10-21.
The big guns, though, will be in action on Wednesday as the likes of PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal, Sai Praneeth and Kidambi Srikanth take the court. It will be interesting to see how they start off in this Olympic year.