India had an underwhelming start to Day 3 at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics as medal hope Sania Mirza and women’s doubles partner Ankita Raina lost to Ukraine’s Nadiia Kichenok and Liudmyla Kichenok 6-0, 6-7, 8-10 in the very first round.

The Indian duo couldn’t have made a better start to their Olympic campaign as they won the first set 6-0 in just 21 minutes before all hell broke loose for them. Things looked bright for India until the seventh game of the second set with the scoreline seeing India lead 5-2 when Ukraine broke Mirza and Raina for the first time in the match.

The Kichenok due went on to win three successive games from thereon to level the set 5-5. Though Sania Mariza and Ankita Raina pulled one back to lead 6-5, the Ukrainian duo levelled the set at 6-6 before winning the tie-break 6-0 to take the match to the decider.

In an entertaining decider, Nadiia and Liudmyla went on an eight-point winning streak to lead 8-0 before Mirza and Raina won eight of their own to level proceedings at 8-8. But, the Ukrainian pair kept their nerves to win the last two points and end the decider with 10-8.

This was the second instance in Tokyo since yesterday that a veteran Indian athlete with prior Olympics experience was eliminated in the first round itself. Yesterday, India saw two-time Olympian Vikas Krishan getting knocked out in the first round as well.

India’s only representative in tennis is now Sumit Nagal, who will be facing second seed Daniil Medvedev of Russia in the next round.

India began Day 3 with the elimination of Manu Bhaker and Yasashwini Deswal Singh from the qualification round of the women’s 10m air pistol event. While shuttler PV Sindhu managed an easy win thereafter, fans will hope MC Mary Kom to progress into the next round.

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