Indian challenge at Orleans Masters 2021 continued on Saturday despite the loss of two big hopes in Saina Nehwal and women’s doubles pairing of Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy. The men’s doubles pair of Krishna Prasad Garaga and Vishnu Vardhan Goud Panjala stormed into the final to keep alive the Indian challenge in the tournament.
Garaga-Panjala, a newly-formed pair, beat the English pair of Callum Hemming and Steven Stallwood 21-17, 21-17 in 35 minutes to advance to the final.
The pair will face the winner of the other semi-final between fourth seeded English pair Ben Lane-Sean Vendy and Sabar Karyaman Gutama-Moh Reza Pahlevi Isfahani of Indonesia.
However, it was curtains for Saina as she lost to Dane Line Christophersen in straight games in the semi-final. She lost 17-21, 17-21 in just 28 minutes to bow out. Saina started brightly but could not maintain her level as Christophersen, with her young legs, put Saina in the backseat.
Saina, seeded eighth, was the more fancied opponent but she failed to match up with her much younger opponent. Saina still has the tricks and smart shots up her sleeve but she is now looking increasingly fatigued and does not look fully match fit.
Ashwini-Sikki also lost their semi-final 18-21, 9-21 in 37 minutes to No.1 seed Jongkolphan Kititharakul-Rawinda Prajongjai of Thailand.
Ashwini-Sikki attempted hard in the first game but the more facied Thai pair made their way around the Indian pair to take the lead. In the second game, the Thai pair was ruthless and did not give the Indian an inch.
Ashwini is still in the mix though as later in the day, she plays the mixed doubles semi-final with Dhruv Kapila against Danish pair of Niclas Nohr-Amalie Magelund.