India's top players had a mixed day at the All England Open as PV Sindhu and Lakshya Sen eased into the quarterfinals, while HS Prannoy and B Sai Praneeth exited the tournament. The women's doubles pair of Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy scripted some history of their own by becoming the first Indian women's doubles pair to reach the quarterfinals at the tournament.
The mixed doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Ponnappa lost in the opening round though. Rankireddy and his partner Chirag Shetty also exited the men's doubles competition after losing 16-21, 21-11, 17-21 to Denmark's Kim Astrup and Anders Skaarup Rasmussen.
Lakshya, 19, became the youngest Indian man in history to make the last eight at the tournament after beating France's Thomas Rouxel 21-18, 21-17 in 35 minutes. Rouxel had progressed to the last 16 after all the Indonesian players were asked to pull out of the tournament after a person on their flight tested positive for COVID-19.
Rouxel got a walkover against fourth-seeded Indonesian Anthony Sinisuka Ginting in the opening round. Ginting's pullout opens up that section of the draw completely as the only other seed in that quarter of the draw - Kidambi Srikanth - had lost in the opening round.
Lakshya will now be favourite to reach the last four as he takes on the Netherlands' Mark Caljouw next, a player who he has never lost to before and who is ranked lower than him.
World Champion Sindhu was in scintillating form against unseeded Dane Line Christophersen, winning 21-8, 21-8 in just 25 minutes. She will face a much tougher proposition next up as she takes on former world no. 1 Akane Yamaguchi.
Yamaguchi has now reached the quarterfinals or better in each of her last five appearances at the tournament. Sindhu has also reached the quaterfinals or better in four of her last five appearances at the tournament, with her best display being a semifinal appearance in 2018, where she lost 21-19, 19-21, 18-21 in an extremely closely-contested match.
Sindhu has a 10-7 edge in their career head-to-head but Yamaguchi has won each of their last three matches. However, the Japanese is lacking match practice as she has only played one match this year. By contrast, Sindhu has already played 14 matches this year, winning nine of those.
With Olympic Champion Carolina Marin and world no. 1 Tai Tzu Ying missing from the draw, Sindhu and Yamaguchi are the two favourites for the title apart from former champion Nozomi Okuhara.
Ponnappa and Sikki defeated the sixth-seeded Bulgarian pair of Stefani Stoeva and Gabriela Stoeva 21-17, 21-10. They will face the unseeded Dutch pair of Selena Piek and Cheryl Seinen next.
The mixed doubles pair of Rankireddy and Ponnappa could not continue their recent run of good form, losing 19-21, 9-21 to Japan's Yuki Kaneko and Misaki Matsutomo.
Facing formidable opponents, Prannoy and Praneeth fought hard but came up short in their respective matches. While Prannoy lost 15-21, 14-21 to world no. 1 and former champion Kento Momota, Praneeth lost 21-15, 12-21, 12-21 to defending champion Viktor Axelsen.
Momota and Axelsen are seeded one and two at the tournament. Axelsen has now lost only one of the 26 matches he has played this year. Momota is also on a 19-match winning streak and his last loss came as far back as the French Open in 2019.
Momota is playing his first tournament since undergoing eye surgery after being involved in an accident post the Malaysia Masters last year. Momota showed signs of rust in his opening round match against Parupalli Kashyap but he was back at his best in the match against the big-hitting Prannoy as he kept his unforced errors to a bare minimum and put the Indian under immense pressure to win any points.
Prannoy came up with stunning shots from time to time but Momota's superior defence ultimately proved too solid for the Indian, who has a reputation of being a giantkiller at the biggest tournaments.