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Sport - Badminton Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

Gopichand prevails over Arvind

By Our Special Correspondent

LUCKNOW, DEC. 11. P. Gopichand may not have much to prove at this stage of his career, but he still showed a younger and fitter Arvind Bhat that when it comes to grit, age and fitness do not matter. Gopichand enthralled his fans by moving into the semifinals of the $20,000 Syed Modi International badminton tournament with a 15-13, 3-15, 15-11 victory over fourth-seeded Bhat in 65 minutes.

Gopichand's victory pushed into the background Anup Sridhar's conquest of top-seeded Abhinn Shyam Gupta. Sridhar tamed Abhinn 15-9, 15-7 in an error-filled contest that failed to rise above mediocrity.

Sridhar led right through the 64-minute contest and did not let Abhinn stage a comeback. Before long, Abhinn's Allahabad mate Utsav Prakash gave the crowd something to cheer about when he knocked out second-seeded Nikhil Kanetkar in three games to clash with third seed Chetan Anand.

Among the women, top-seeded Aparna Popat took her allotted place in the semifinals after racing past youngster Dhanya Nair for the loss of just three points. She now plays Indonesian girl Pia Zubadiah who knocked out fourth-seeded Anita Raj Kaur from Malaysia.

In the other semifinals, second-seeded Wong Mew Choo meets Trupti Murgunde, the conqueror of B.R. Meenakshi.

The Gopichand-Bhat match was indeed the contest of the day. Gopichand, nursing a knee that has undergone four surgeries, was careful not to stretch himself too much in order to retrieve the shuttles from the forecourt.

Though his movements were slower and lacked the power of old, Gopichand still produced winners to overpower Bhat, the Scottish Open winner.

Gopichand blew away a 4-0 lead but bounced right back from 4-9 and 11-13 to snatch the first game. But the match was level in the next 13 minutes as Bhat caught Gopichand slow on either side with amazing regularity. If Bhat and most in the packed Babu Stadium thought Gopichand could not last the third game, the champion produced a pleasant surprise.

Returning to the court with a brace on the left knee, Gopichand broke away from 6-all and soon won six points on the trot to come within two points of winning the match. A number of unforced errors from Bhat helped Gopichand's cause who went on to reach match-point. Thereafter Bhat kept his cool and played on Gopichand's nerves to save seven match points.

Thrice Gopichand erred in judgement and also let go of some easy points. Just when Bhat was beginning to look threatening, Gopichand leapt and smashed hard to bring the crowd to its feet.

The results:

Men's singles (quarterfinals): Anup Sridhar bt Abhinn Shyam Gupta 15-9, 15-7; P. Gopichand bt Arvind Bhat 15-13, 3-15, 15-11; Chetan Anand bt Arup Baidya 15-0, 15-2; Utsav Mishra bt Nikhil Kanetkar 15-10, 13-15, 15-11.

Pre-quarterfinals: Abhinn bt Thomas Kurian 17-14, 15-5; Sridhar bt Achmat Rivia (Indo) 15-2, 15-0; Bhat bt Hemant Duggal 15-9, 15-8; Gopichand bt Rohan Castelino 15-13, 15-5; Baidya bt Sachin Ratti 13-15, 15-11, 15-13; Chetan Anand bt Joy T. Antony 15-11, 15-3; Mishra bt J.B.S. Vidyadhar 9-11, 15-2, 15-11; Kanetkar bt Magrish Palekar 15-4, 15-6.

Second round: Abhinn bt K.A. Anish 15-12, 15-1; Kurian bt Sumit Dahiya 15-4, 15-6; Sridhar bt Jibi Verghese 15-6, 15-14; Rivia bt Rutuparna Kulkarni 12-15, 15-4, 15-13; Bhat bt Himanshu Thakkar 15-7, 15-10; Hemant Duggal bt Utsav Prakash 15-7, 15-6; Gopichand bt Rajiv Bajaj 15-6, 15-8; Castelino bt K. Tanish 15-4, 15-14; Ratti bt C.M. Shashidhar 15-12, 15-5; Baidya bt Tommy Sugiarto (Indo) 15-9, 15-9; Joy Antony bt Ravinder Singh 15-7, 15-4; Chetan Anand bt Santosh Pandye 15-8, 15-3; Mishra bt Nishad Dravid 15-1, 15-2; Vidhyadhar bt Anuj Gupta 11-15, 15-2, 15-0; Palekar bt A. Pridhvi 15-10, 15-10; Kanetkar bt Mayank Bahl 15-9, 15-7.

Men's doubles (pre-quarterfinals): Rupesh Kumar & Thomas Sanave bt Jai Singh & Srikant Bakshi 15-3, 15-5; K.A. Anish & Joy T. Antony bt N. Venkatesh & Malik Jalal 15-9, 15-7; Koh Jack Sian Nguan & Tan Zhao Rong (Mal) bt Pashupati Paneru & Balaram Thapa 15-0, 15-2; J.B.S. Vidyadhar & A. Prithvi bt Jayan James & T. Dinesh 15-4, 15-12; Markose Bristow & Jaison Xavier bt K. Tanish & V.N. Vinayak 15-6, 15-5; Tommy Sugiarto & Achmat Rivia (Indo) bt Mayur Ghatnekar & Varun Khanvilkar 15-9, 15-11; Mitesh Hazarinis & Jose George bt Chetan Anand & P. Saratchandra 15-4, 15-14; Jaseel P. Ismail & V. Diju bt Nishad Dravid & Ramesh Naidu 15-2, 15-13.

Women's singles (quarterfinals): Aparna Popat bt Dhanya Nair 11-1, 11-2; Pia Zubadiah (Indo) bt Anita Raj Kaur (Mal) 11-6, 11-5; Trupti Murgunde bt B.R. Meenakshi 11-6, 11-9; Wong Mew Choo (Mal) bt G. Jwala 11-5, 11-3.

Pre-quarterfinals: Aparna bt T. Sowmya 11-1, 11-1; Dhanya bt Parsha Naqvi 11-9. 13-11; Anita bt C.H. Deepti 11-1, 11-2; Pia bt Shruti Kurian 11-5, 8-11, 11-6; Meenakshi bt Aditi Biswas 11-8, 11-7; Trupti bt Abantika Deka 11-1, 11-8; Jwala bt Yuan Kartika 11-3, 11-2; Wong bt Krishna Dekaraja 13-10, 11-3.

Women's doubles (first round): Amrita Mukherjee & Barnali Raha bt Sara Devi Tamang & Sumina Shreshtha 15-8, 15-3; Trupti Murgunde & Aparna Balan bt Merian George & Miral George 15-0, 15-3; Pia Zubadiah & Yuan Kartika bt Deepti Priyadarshini & Deepti Shalini 17-15, 17-14; Oli Deka & Krishna Dekaraja bt Aswini Chowdhary & T. Sowmya 15-10, 15-10; B.R. Meenakshi & C.H. Deepti 15-6, 15-9.

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