World No.7 men's doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty was upset at the hands of the Japanese combination of Takuro Hoki and Yugo Kobayashi in a three-game thriller in the first round of Hong Kong Open Super 500 on Wednesday.
India's highest-ranked men's singles player Sai Praneeth was also knocked out by third seed Shi Yuqi of China. However, Sourabh Verma defeated France's Brice Leverdez in straight sets to set up a second-round clash with Kidambi Srikanth.
Satwik-Chirag, who reached their career-high of world No.7 on Tuesday after a final finish at French Open and a semi-final show at China Open, won the first game against Hoki-Kobayashi but could not sustain the momentum and eventually lost the match 21-17, 16-21, 17-21 in an hour and two minutes.
Satwik-Chirag began the match in a brilliant manner as they got up and running with an 11-6 lead at the break. They continued the momentum after the break as well to take a 19-14 lead.
Hoki-Kobayashi fought the deficit to make it 17-19 but the Indian duo took the next two points to pocket the first game.
It was the second game where Satwik-Chirag completely lost the plot. The Japanese duo started the match with five straight points and then went into the break with an 11-4 lead.
Satwik-Chirag kept fighting in the second half of the second game and reduced the deficit to just two points at 16-18. However, Hoki-Kobayashi took three points on the trot from there to send the match into the decider.
The Indians raced off to an 11-5 lead in the decider and despite a fightback from the Japanese, they led 13-9.
However, they let Hoki-Kobayashi back in the match by losing straight points as the Japanese levelled the proceedings at 13-13.
At 15-15, the Japanese combination took three straight points but Satwik-Chirag fought back to make it 17-18. However, the Japanese bagged the next three to seal the match.
Sai Praneeth also let a first-game lead slip from his hands as he lost 21-11, 18-21, 12-21 to Yuqi, who is making his return after an ankle injury.
In the first game, things were tight till 6-6 before the Indian pulled the trigger and won the next six points to lead 12-6. The Chinese tried to keep battling but Praneeth did not lose his momentum at all and raced off to take the first game.
The second game remained tight through with the scoreline reading 16-16 at one point. Yuqi bagged three straight points from there to make it 19-16 and while Praneeth did get the next two points, the Chinese held on to take the next two to force a decider.
Praneeth completely fizzled out in the final game. Yuqi raced off to a 10-4 lead and the Indian never looked like he would be able to catch up with the Chinese to eased into the next round.
Sourabh Verma beat Leverdez 21-11, 21-15 in just 36 minutes and will next meet his compatriot Srikanth, who received a walk over with world No.1 Kento Momota pulling out of the tournament.
Parupalli Kashyap also moved into the next round with a hard-fought 21-18, 16-21, 21-10 win over Japan's Kenta Nishimoto in an hour and six minutes.