Kidambi Srikanth suffered a heartbreaking defeat against top seed Kento Momota to make a second-round exit, but India’s mixed doubles team of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Ashwini Ponnappa advanced at the French Open Super 750 badminton tournament, here on Wednesday.
The Rio quarterfinalist played his heart out to match the Japanese and also held a two-point lead towards the end of the decider but ended up losing the men’s singles second round 18-21, 22-20, 21-19 in a 79-minute match.
Srikanth had lost to Momota last week also at Denmark Open, but he produced a much better display here and came agonisingly close to outwitting the two-time world champion only to fall short in the end.
Rankireddy and Ponappa, the world number 24 pair beat Denmark’s Mathias Thyrri and Mai Surrow 21-19, 21-15 in 37 minutes.
They are likely to face second-seeded Indonesian pair of Praveen Jordan and Melati Daeva Oktavianti next.
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Srikanth ran up a 4-0 lead, but Momota clawed back to level the score. He again moved to an 8-5 advantage only to see the Japanese eke out a slender 11-10 lead at the break.
After the break, Momota kept his nose ahead despite Srikanth snapping at his heels and drawing parity at 18-18 at one stage.
The second game was an even more engrossing contest as the lead exchanged hands many times before Momota managed to take an 11-9 advantage at the breather.
The Japanese held two game points but Srikanth staged a superb fought back, and reeled off four straight points to roar back into the contest.
The decider started with a similar intensity with Srikanth heading to a 9-6 advantage, but Momota made it 11-10 at the break.
The Indian moved to 19-17, but a couple of errors cost him the match.
India’s doubles Olympic medallist P V Sindhu along with other Indians will compete later in the day.