India goof up opener

Nanning (China): Sameer Verma suffered a shocking straight-game loss in men’s singles on Tuesday as India were stunned 2-3 by a young Malaysia in a group 1D match to jeopardise their hopes of reaching the knockout stage of the Sudirman Cup mixed team championship here.

Mixed doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Ashwini Ponnappa produced a brilliant performance to outdo Malaysia’s Goh Soon Huat and Lai Shevon Jemie 16-21, 21-17, 24-22 in an hour and 10-minute opening match to give India a 1-0 lead.

But India’s decision to field world No. 13 Sameer instead of Kidambi Srikanth in men’s singles backfired as the former couldn’t get going against Lee Zii Jia, losing 13-21, 15-21 in 48 minutes to allow Malaysia level the scores 1-1.

Olympic and world championship silver medallist P. V. Sindhu then steamrolled Goh Jin Wei 21-12, 21-8 in 35 minutes to bring India back on track but doubles pair of Manu Attri and B. Sumeeth Reddy lost narrowly 20-22, 19-21 to Aaron Chia and Teo Ee Yi.

With India and Malaysia level at 2-2, Ashwini once again took the court — two hours after her mixed doubles match — alongwith N Sikki Reddy but the women’s doubles pair couldn’t get across the world no 13 pair of Chow Mei Kuan and Lee Meng Yean, losing 11-21, 19-21.

Eighth seeded India’s hopes will now rest on their next match when they take on the mighty China Wednesday.

China boosts of All England champion Chen Yufei and world No. 2 Shi Yuqi besides three formidable doubles pairs — all figuring the world’s top 10 and it will take a miraculous effort from India to overcome the 10-time champions.

Japan survive A scare

Japan gambled by resting top-ranked Kento Momota and nearly paid the price, suffering a huge scare before battling back to beat Russia 3-2 in their opener. Top seed Japan are bidding to win the mixed-team world championships for the first time, but a major shock was on the cards when they went 2-1 down.

The unfancied Russians enjoyed surprise victories in the men’s singles and men’s doubles, before the Japanese fought back.

Japan, who along with the hosts are the favourites, rested world champion Momota along with their first-choice men’s pairing.

They were initially unaffected and won the mixed doubles in the opening rubber. But Russia then took advantage of Japan’s weakened side with Vladimir Malkov, ranked 62, beating Momota’s replacement Kenta Nishimoto — 10th in the world — and also winning the men’s doubles.

But Japan’s women saved the day for them, world number two Nozomi Okuhara thrashing Natalia Perminova in the women’s singles to make it 2-2 in the tie.

The women’s duo of Yuki Fukushima/Sayaka Hirota saw off Ekaterina Bolotova/Alina Davletova to save Japan from embarrassment.

Holders South Korea, who stunned 10-time winners China to lift the Sudirman Cup in the previous edition in 2017, were comfortable 4-1 victors over Hong Kong.

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