New Delhi, 26 October: Commonwealth Games champion Lakshya Sen and former world No. 1 Kidambi Srikanth crashed out losing to local challengers in straight games in the French Open badminton in Rennes.  In the process India’s challenge in the men’s singles  came to an end in the tournament  

Playing on the courts at the Glaz Arena, world No. 17 Lakshya Sen lost to 44th ranked Arnaud Merkle 15-21, 18-21 in 54 minutes. while world No. 22 Kidambi Srikanth lost to 25th-ranked Toma Junior Popov  17-21,15-21 in 44 minutes.

Lakshya  who won the Canada Open BWF Super 500 event earlier this year, was left struggling early as Arnaud Merkle raced to a four-point lead at 10-6. The Indian levelled the scores at 11-all but the French snatched back the momentum with five straight points and pocketed the first game with ease.

The two engaged in longer rallies in the second game and scores were tied at 13-all, Lakshya won four of the next five points and raced to a 17-14 lead. However, Merkle clawed his way back at 18-all and then won the final three points to sail into the round of 16.

Lakshya has competed in six BWF tournaments since making the semi-finals at the Japan Open in July. He did not progress past the first round in five of those tournaments with the BWF World Championships being an exception where he made it to the round of 16.

For Kidambi Srikanth, the French Open was his eighth first-round exit this year. The Indian reached the world championships final in 2021 and helped India win their maiden Thomas Cup title in 2022 but is yet to win a BWF title in 2023.

In the women section, two-time Olympic medalist PV Sindhu has kept India's hope alive and she will take on world No. 16 Supanida Katethong of Thailand in the round of 16.

Asian Games champions Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty will be up against three-time world champions Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan of Indonesia for a place in the  quarter-finals.

Results at the French Open will count towards qualifying rankings for the Paris  Olympic

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