Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty in action© X (formerly Twitter)

The Indian men’s doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty began the new season on a winning note, advancing to the second round, while Asian Games bronze medallist HS Prannoy bit the dust in his opening-round match at the Malaysia Open Super 1000 badminton tournament on Wednesday. The world No.2 doubles combination of Satwik and Chirag overcame a tough challenge from the gritty Indonesian pair of Muhammad Shohibul Fikri and Maulana Bagas 21-18, 21-19, while world No. 8 Prannoy lost to Denmark’s Anders Antonsen, a player ranked one spot below him, 14-21, 11-21 in 43 minutes. The second-seeded pair of Satwik and Chirag, which reached the semifinals in 2023, will look to continue the good run and go deep in the draw after the stiff 44-minute test from the world No. 9 duo, which had beaten the Indians twice last year — at the Thailand Open and China Open.

Satwik and Chirag have looked in ominous form, winning the Asian Games gold in Hangzhou, a Super 1000 crown in Indonesia, the Korea Open Super 500 and the Swiss Open super 300 last year before grabbing a a career-best ranking of World No.1, albeit for a brief time.

The duo asserted early dominance in the first game with powerful smashes to take a four-point lead at 8-4 and never lost the advantage. However, the second game was more challenging with the Indians trailing for most part of the match before levelling at 19-all and taking the last two points.

Prannoy, a frontrunner in the Olympic race, had a sensational last season with maiden bronze medals at the World Championships and the Asian Games and a title-run at the Malaysia Masters super 500.

But, in the season-opening match here the Indian looked rusty and couldn’t match up with his opponent’s speed.

Another Indian, Lakshya Sen, will begin his campaign against Weng Hong Yang of China later in the day.

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