Rio de Janeiro: The Indian combination of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa was off to a disappointing start in the Olympic women’s doubles badminton event, losing in straight games to World No 1 Japan in the opening Group A clash at Rio de Janeiro on Thursday.
Jwala and Ashwini lost 15-21 10-21 to the pair of Ayaka Takahashi and Misaki Matsumoto in a match which lasted 36 minutes. The Indians will next be up against the world No 11 Dutch pair of Eefje Muskens and Selena Piek in their second group clash on Friday.
Jwala and Ashwini opened a 4-1 lead but ended up blowing it away in no time after the Japanese pair put across some targetted deep returns which the Indians failed to judge. The world No 1s, in contrast, were quick on their feet and returned everything that the Indians threw at them. Jwala and Ashwini, who were struggling to coordinate their moves, trailed 8-11 at the first lemon break and could not bridge the gap even once.
The Japanese pair produced a couple of brilliant winners — a backhand flick down the line by Matsumoto being particularly impressive — to wrap up the opening game in 19 minutes without breaking much of a sweat.
The second game followed a similar script with Takahashi and Matsumoto racing to a 6-3 lead. The top seeds capitalised on Jwala and Ashwini’s apparent lack of rhythm and managed to send down winners in open gaps. Jwala and Ashwini were found wanting close to the net as well and ended up committing quite a few unforced errors to lose the match rather timidly.