The youngster stuns idol Hidayat in the first round before bowing out

Just out of the junior ranks, Pratul Joshi lived his childhood dream by stunning former World, Olympic and defending champion Taufik Hidayat before another Indonesian dashed his hopes in the $120,000 Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold badminton championship here on Wednesday.

Pratul, a trainee at the Prakash Padukone Academy and a first-year student of Delhi’s Khalsa College, surprised everyone, including himself, by defeating his idol, who pointed to an upset stomach for his lacklustre performance. That, however, should not take nothing away from Joshi’s 21-17, 21-12 conquest that came in just 30 minutes.

Hidayat’s exit came before ladies top seed Saina Nehwal gave up on match-point against little-known Russian Ksenia Polikarpova after leading 21-17, 20-18 citing a knee injury. The departures of these two players has robbed the event of all its sheen.

Thrilled

Pratul, who lacks the experience of playing in the senior ranks, almost did not play here. “When I knew Taufik [Hidayat] would play, I was hoping to face him. I learnt through my friends that he was my first round opponent. I was so thrilled at the opportunity.

“My aim was to give my best and try and take the match into the decider, if possible. I kept putting the shuttle back into play, hoping for the best.

He made quite a few mistakes and that kept me in the match. After I led 12-9 in the second game, I thought he gave up,” was the candid assessment of the youngster, who had trained at Hidayat’s academy for 15 days, two years ago.

However, in the second round, Pratul met his match in Hidayat’s compatriot Siswanto, who held his nerve to win 21-18, 16-21, 22-20 in 70 minutes.

“I gave it my all but could not win,” said Pratul, who saved five match points to make it 20-20 in the decider.

Sourabh loses

Sourabh Verma, runner-up to Hidayat last year, was also eliminated in the first round. The sixth-seeded Sourabh, a former National champion, surrendered 19-21, 14-21 to Malaysia’s Soon Huat Goh.

Second seed P. Kashyap survived a testing time against Russia’s Malkov Vladimir before winning 24-22, 16-21, 21-18 in 68 minutes to enter the pre-quarterfinals.

Among the ladies, second seed P.V. Sindhu warmed up for the battles ahead with an easy 21-6, 21-12 triumph over Malaysia’s Li Lian Yang in a first round match that lasted just 22 minutes.

Important results (Indians unless stated): Men (second round): Siswanto (Ina) bt Pratul Joshi 21-18, 16-21, 22-20; H.S. Prannoy bt Prasaojo Adi Andrianus 21-12, 21-10; Jong Woo Yim (Kor) bt Chetan Anand 15-21, 21-15, 21-18; Ajay Jayaram bt Sukamta Evert (Ina) 21-9, 21-15; K. Srikanth bt Vinay Kumar Reddy 21-12, 21-12; Sung Min Park (Kor) bt Niluka Karunaratne 22-20, 15-21, 21-18; Sai Praneeth bt Sarang Lakhanee 19-21, 21-3, 21-5; P. Kashyap bt Vladimir Malkov (Rus) 24-22, 16-21, 21-18.

First round: Pratul bt Taufik Hidayat (Ina) 21-17, 21-12; Soon Huat Goh (Mal) bt Sourabh Verma 21-19, 21-14.

Women (first round): Ksenia Polikarpova (Rus) bt Saina Nehwal 17-21, 18-20, retd.; Ruthvika Shivani bt P.C. Thulasi 21-14, 11-21, 21-13; Rituparna Das bt Aditi Mutatkar 16-14, retd.; Sapsiree Taerattanchai (Tha) bt Arundhati Pantawane 21-19, 21-18; Febby Angguni (Ina) bt Neha Pandit 21-14, 22-20; P.V. Sindhu bt Li Lian Yang 21-6, 21-12.

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