India’s challenge ends at the Toyota Thailand Open Super 1000 after Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Ashwini Ponnappa put up a briiliant show yet bowed out in the semifinal encounter 20-22, 21-18, 12-21 against the top-seeded pair of Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai of Thailand in the mixed double’s event. The Indian pair pulled off a close game against the Thai in the first game recovering from three game points and finishing it at 20-22.
Satwik-Ashwini continued trailing in the second game by 3-6, Ashwini’s trouble returning the drop shots gave away some sigbificant points to the opponent. At interval, the Indians were trailing by five points at 6-11. They came back in style levelling up at 12-12. Eventually they went on lead at 16-15. They picked up their game and showed perseverance to bag the second game ast 21-18. The visitors won successive points and at interval, they were trailing at 9-11.
The opening rally of the deciding game went in favour of the Thai pair. They took a lead of 3-1. Ashwini-Satwik equalised and eventually took a lead of 4-3. The Thai pair took their lead to 9-6 with some long shots from the back. The visitors won successive points and at interval, they were trailing at 9-11. Opponents took their lead to 18-11 where the Indians failed to match up to their power. They won the game 21-12
On the other hand, Olympics medal contenders in men’s doubles Satwiksairaj and Chirag Shetty’s impressive run ended with a close semifinal defeat.
The world number 10 Indian pair, which won its maiden super 500 title in Thailand and entered the finals of French Open super 750 event in 2019, lost 18-21 18-21 to world number nine Malayasian combination of Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik in a 35-minute match.
The Indian pair had participated in Super 1000 events in 2018 ad 2019 but this is the first time it entered the semifinals. Satwik and Chirag couldn’t bring their best to the fore as the Malaysians were more alert on court and also managed to diffuse any attack from the Indian pair to emerge victories.
The Indian pair had a 4-2 lead early on but the Malaysians managed to claw back and eke out a slender 11-10 lead at the break. Satwik and Chirag stayed close till 15-16 when their rivals reeled off four points on the trot to eventually close out the opening game. In the second game, the Indian duo was up 3-1 but again the Malaysians produced four straight points to move to 7-3. A precise serve and then their rivals finding the net helped Satwik and Chirag to narrow the gap before drawing parity at 8-8.
However, two smashes at the backcourt gave Aaron and Soh a three-point advantage at the interval. India couldn’t breach the gap and with Chirag hitting long, the Malaysian grabbed six match points.
The Indian pair managed to save four match points before Chirag once again found the net as the Malaysians began celebrating.
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