Indians On Fire – Day 3: YONEX French Open 2018

India had an outstanding day at the YONEX French Open 2018 in Paris yesterday, with two Men’s Doubles pairs and three singles players making the quarter-finals.

Both pairs beat formidable Chinese combinations in the second round. Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty got the better of He Jiting and Tan Qiang, 21-13 21-19, before Manu Attri and Sumeeth Reddy achieved one of the biggest upsets of their career beating 2017 world champions Liu Cheng and Zhang Nan, 21-14 21-16. China suffered a third blow late in the day with the loss of second seeds Li Junhui/Liu Yuchen to Chinese Taipei’s Liao Min Chun/Su Ching Heng.

Attri and Reddy’s (featured image) 39-minute victory came at the end of a good day for India, which saw Women’s Singles contenders Saina Nehwal and Pusarla V Sindhu, and Men’s Singles defending champion Kidambi Srikanth progress into the last eight.

Nehwal continued her recent good form over Okuhara, who she beat at last week’s Denmark Open after three straight losses. Nehwal fought back after a quick first-game loss, outplaying the Japanese in 72 minutes, 10-21 21-14 21-17.

Nehwal’s compatriot Pusarla, who was a semi-finalist at this event last year, also beat a Japanese in the second round. The third seed blew a 15-7 lead in the first game to Sayaka Sato, but recovered her wits in time to hold off her rival, 21-17 21-16.

Pusarla takes on seventh seed He Bingjiao (China), who beat Korea’s Sung Ji Hyun 21-12 21-19. He Bingjiao and Pusarla have a tight head-to-head record, with the Chinese leading 6-5, having won their last match at the Indonesia Open in July.

Nehwal, meanwhile, faces nemesis Tai Tzu Ying, who has a 13-5 record over her. The Indian hasn’t beaten her Chinese Taipei rival in the last 11 matches.

The other quarter-final in the top half will see Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon take on Chen Yufei (China).

Kidambi Srikanth pulled off his first win in three matches against Korea’s Lee Dong Keun. As with both their previous matches, this one too went to three games. Lee neutralised a 15-18 deficit but Kidambi regained the initiative and emerged triumphant at 12-21 21-16 21-18 in 73 minutes.

The Indian has a formidable challenge lined up in the quarter-finals, in the form of top seed Kento Momota. The Japanese has won their last six encounters – five of them in straight games.

In other quarter-finals, Indonesia’s Jonatan Christie takes on China’s Chen Long; Kantaphon Wangcharoen (Thailand) faces Rasmus Gemke (Denmark), and second seed Shi Yuqi (China) will do battle with seventh seed Son Wan Ho (Korea).

In Women’s Doubles, two top contenders – No.1 seeds Yuki Fukushima/Sayaka Hirota and sixth seeds Shiho Tanaka/Koharu Yonemoto – bit the dust. While Fukushima/Hirota were outplayed by Korea’s Chang Ye Na/Jung Kyung Eun, 21-12 17-21 21-17, Tanaka/Yonemoto were edged out in a close battle by Denmark’s Maiken Fruergaard/Sara Thygesen, 21-19 21-19.

However, there were still three Japanese pairs left in the draw – Mayu Matsumoto/Wakana Nagahara; Naoko Fukuman/Kurumi Yonao and Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi.

In Mixed Doubles, Dutch Open winners Marcus Ellis/Lauren Smith (England) had the closest win of the day, as they survived an 81-minute battle against Malaysia’s Goh Soon Huat/Shevon Jemie Lai 21-19 22-24 21-19. The England duo will be up against top seeds Zheng Siwei/Huang Yaqiong (China), who cruised past Chris Adcock/Gabrielle Adcock 21-12 21-11.

Third seeds Tontowi Ahmad/Liliyana Natsir (Indonesia) also survived a close call against Chinese Taipei’s Wang Chi-Lin/Lee Chia Hsin, 23-21 21-19, to make the quarter-finals, where they face Japan’s Yuta Watanabe/Arisa Higashino.

The bottom half of the draw will see Takuro Hoki/Wakana Nagahara (Japan) against Seo Seung Jae/Chae Yujung (Korea) and Dechapol Puavaranukroh/Sapsiree Taerattanachai (Thailand) against Wang Yilyu/Huang Dongping (China).

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