There are quite a few young Indian men who hold the promise of breaking into the badminton’s ‘elite’ in future. With sustained training and timely exposure to quality opposition, these players regularly provide results that underscore their potential.
K. Srikanth, R.M.V. Gurusaidutt, H.S. Prannoy and B. Sai Praneeth are part of a group that is expected to perform beyond the success achieved by more established names like P. Kashyap and Ajay Jayaram.
Given the field in the $120,000 Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold badminton championship, these names were expected to use the opportunity to prove that they were good enough to win at this level. And most of them are on course.
On Thursday, unseeded Srikanth and 12th seed Gurusaidutt reinforced their credentials in style. Srikanth knocked out fourth seed Jayaram 21-18, 21-18 in 42 minutes after Gurusaidutt had upstaged seventh seeded Malaysian Mohammad Arif Abdul Latif 21-10, 21-12 in 41 minutes in the pre-quarterfinals. Srikanth fought off deficit of 7-11 in the first game and 7-12 in the second to outsmart Ajay whose streak of unforced errors proved decisive.
Fresh from winning the Tata Open title in Mumbai, Gurusaidutt was looking to avenge the defeat suffered in last year’s Denmark Open. Gurusaidutt settled down early, showed fine control to open up an 8-0 lead and closed the game by winning the last five points. In the second, the Indian took a 9-4 lead and never tailed in the contest.
An off-colour Latif failed to find his bearings in the match that saw Gurusaidutt come up with a series of soft placements, with his deception making the decisive difference. Gurusaidutt could have well met Praneeth for a place in the semifinals but the youngster became too error-prone after winning the first game against third seed Tommy Sugiarto.
Prannoy, who like Praneeth is a former World junior semifinalist, came up with a refined performance to down Indonesia’s Siswanto 21-18, 21-12 in 35 minutes.
Siswanto had put out Pratul Joshi, the conqueror of top seed Taufik Hidayat on Wednesday.
Second seed Kashyap posted yet another unimpressive victory when he needed 38 minutes to stop the 236th ranked Thai Parnyawat Thongnuam 21-16, 21-17.
Sindhu in last eight
In the ladies section, second seed P. V. Sindhu was the lone Indian in the quarterfinals. The lanky girl needed just 18 minutes to dismiss Australia’s No. 1 Victoria Na 21-9, 21-9.
Though National champion Sayali Gokhale surrendered tamely to fifth seed Aprilla Ysuwandari, two Indian teenaged qualifiers — Rituparna Das and G. Ruthvika Shivani — made contrasting exits.
Rituparna, the reigning National under-17 champion, played way above expectations and held four match-points against World number 33 and seventh seeded Indonesia Lindaweni Fanetri but could not pull it off.
Fanetri, far more experienced than the unranked trainee of Gopi Chand, prevailed 19-21, 21-17, 28-26 after converting her fourth match-point.
National under-17 semifinalist Shivani, who did well to reach this far, proved no match to fourth- seeded Thai Nichaon Jindapon.
Important results (pre-quarterfinals):
Men singles: H.S. Prannoy bt Siswanto (Ina) 21-18, 21-12; K. Srikanth bt Ajay Jayaram 21-18, 21-18; R.M.V. Gurusaidutt bt Mohammad Arif Abdul Latif (Mas) 21-10, 21-16; Tommy Sugiarto (Ina) bt B. Sai Praneeth 12-21, 21-12, 21-16; P. Kashyap bt Parinyawat Thongnuam (Tha) 21-16, 21-17.
Women singles: Nichaon Jindapon (Tha) bt Ruthvika Shivani 21-4, 21-13; Lindaweni Fanetri (Ina) bt Rituparna Das 19-21, 21-17, 28-26; Aprilla Yuswandari (Ina) bt Sayali Gokhale 21-15, 21-11; P.V. Sindhu bt Victoria Na (Aus) 21-9, 21-9.
Keywords: Syed Modi Grand Prix