The China Open, which will be the last of the three Super 1000 category events of the BWF World Tour this year, got underway from today. The eighteenth tournament in the tour calendar, this edition of the China Open will feature eleven Indians in the fray.
Opening the attack for India on Day 1 of the coveted event was the mixed doubles duo of Ashwini Ponnappa and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy. Coupled with experience and young blood, the Indian pair took on Indonesian sixth seeds Praveen Jordan and Melait Daeva Oktavianti.
From the very first game, it shaped up to be an intense battle but Ashwini and Satwik displayed strong mettle to win the battle of nerves. The Indian team wrapped up the game right at the wire at 22-20 to take the early lead.
It was a however, a complete turn of tables in the second as the superior ranked Indonesian pair romped back, to take the game the home at 21-17 against a resilient Aswhini and Chirag. With nothing to lose, the Indians passed the test of endurance with a touch of class by controlling the pace of the game in the crucial phase to seal the tie at 22-20, 17-21, 21-17.
It was double joy for Satwik on the opening day as he triumphed with partner Chirag Shetty in the men's doubles first round. Winner of the Thailand Open Super 500 last month, the Indian pair was charged up to do an encore as they took the court against Canada's Jason Anthony Ho-Shue and Nyl Akura.
Satwik-Chirag came all guns blazing, turning the contest into a one sided affair. With great combination, they made their opponents work for every point before clinching the opening game with comfortable ease at 21-7.
The Canadian duo came back strong, making amends for their first game errors to pull the match back and stay in the hunt. But they left it for too late as Satwik and Chirag capitalised on every opportunity towards the end to win the match 21-7, 21-18 and advance to R2.
Tomorrow's draw will see the India's top singles stars in action. The men's attack will be spearhead by World Championship bronze medallist Sai Praneeth along with Parupalli Kashyap in the absence of Kidambi Srikanth and HS Prannoy.
On the other hand, both PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal will shouldering the Indian hopes. PV Sindhu will clash horns with Chinese shuttler Li Xuerui. The Indian shuttle queen has played six matches against Li with the honours even currently but Sindhu did beat Li in the Indonesian masters earlier this year.
Indian World number 8 Saina Nehwal will be up against Busanan Ongamrungphan. Though there have been recent meetings between the pair, Saina enjoys a lead of 3-1 in the head-head margin.