Rankireddy-Shetty enter semifinals, Sai Praneeth crashes out

Bangkok, Aug 2: India’s Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty qualified for the men’s doubles semifinals but B Sai Praneeth crashed out of the men’s singles event at the Thailand Open here today.
While Rankireddy and Shetty registered a hard-fought win over qualifiers Choi Solgyu and Seo Seung Jae of Korea, Sai Praneeth suffered a straight game defeat against seventh seed Kenta Tsuneyama of Japan.
After posing some challenge in the first game, Sai Praneeth, who reached the semifinals of last week’s Japan Open, surrendered 18-21 12-21 in the men’s singles quarterfinals.
With Sai Praneeth’s exit, Indian challenge has ended in the men’s singles event.
However, the unseeded Indian combination of Rankireddy and Shetty fought valiantly for exactly an hour to get past the Korean rivals 21-17 17-21 21-19 in a quarterfinal duel.
The win was Rankireddy and Shetty’s maiden victory over the Korean pair to enter the semifinal, their first in 2019 on the BWF World Tour circuit. They had earlier won the Brazil International Challenge and reached the semifinals of Denmark Challenge.
The 16th ranked Indians will take on another Korean combo of Ko Sung Hyun and Shin Baek Cheol in the semifinals on Saturday.
Rankireddy and Shetty kept a steady lead against their South Korean opponents to take the first game with ease.
The second game, however, saw the South Koreans change their strategy. Choi-Seo started playing lot straighter and flatter as they made a strong comeback to take the second game 21-17 and draw parity.
But the Indians got their act together soon and pocketed the decider with sharp anticipation skills at the net and brilliant steep smashes.
Speaking after the match, Rankireddy said, “With every tournament we can see our game is improving. In today’s match, we knew if we stay positive and confident till the end we can win and we really played well in the last two points in the end.
“Both of us are making strategies for every point on court and this has helped us to win crucial points, which otherwise we have been losing. Also staying calm and positive has really worked in our favour.”
However, it was curtains for Rankireddy in the quarterfinals of mixed doubles event as he and Ashwini Ponnappa lost in straight games to bow out of the tournament.
Rankireddy and Ponnappa were no match for third seeds Yuta Watanabe and Arisa Higashino of Japan, losing 13-21 15-21 in a lopsided encounter that lasted just 28 minutes. (PTI)