Seedings went for a toss on the opening day of the Yonex Sunrise-India Open Grand Prix gold badminton championships at the Nehru Indoor Stadium here on Wednesday, with as many as five players biting the dust in the singles. However, it was P.C. Thulasi's bold performance that gladdened the hearts of the Indians.
Belying her age and experience, Thulasi came up with an impeccable performance to defeat Maja Tvrdy of Slovenia, the fourth seed, 17-21, 21-9, 21-10 in the women's first round.
Anup Sridhar, the men's fifth seed and Aditi Mutatkar, Fu Mingtian of Singapore, Trupti Murgunde, seeded third, fifth and seventh respectively in women's bowed out.
Saina Nehwal, the women's top seed, entered the second round with a 21-7, 21-10 victory over Sri Lanka's Thilini Jayasinghe.
However, the men's top seed Chetan Anand emerged unscathed, defeating Mohit Kamat 21-8, 21-8.
Unseeded in this tournament and with hardly enough international exposure, the 18-year-old Thrissur girl proved that she has the tools to take her game to the next level. Against a player with a world ranking of 47, Thulasi never lost confidence or focus after losing the first game.
Her overhead drop shots, the physical strength to match the Slovenian shot for shot from the back and her high energy levels paid rich dividends in the last two games.
Thulasi was at her best in the third game. Her stamina came to her aid as she ran up and down taking so many difficult shots from difficult angles from the Slovenian and putting it back to the court.
Delightful drop shots
What stood out in the decider were her overhead drop shots, which she executed with perfection that put seeds of doubt in Maja's mind. And of course, excellent deceptions both at the net and from the back of the court caught Maja on the wrong foot more often than not.
Training for nearly three years at the Gopi Chand Academy for National camps in Hyderabad, Thulasi said later, has helped her game immensely. “This is the biggest win in my career,” said Thulasi World ranked 389. “We practised for almost three years at the Gopi Chand Academy and with good coaches and with so much practice sessions, we were able to build our stamina and improve our strokes. Against Maja, Gopi Sir told me to keep the shuttle down as she was a ‘rally' player and I think I did that well.”
The results (Indians unless otherwise mentioned):
Men (second round): Yunus Alamsyah (Ina) bt 5-Anup Sridhar 21-12, 21-8; Arvind Bhat bt Rohan Castelino 21-14, 21-15; Chetan Anand bt Mohit Kamat 21-8, 21-8; Seang Tan Chun (Mas) bt Sai Praneeth 21-9, 21-15; Guru Sai Dutt bt Anurag Sharma 21-8, 21-9; M.R. Manikandan bt Ashish Sharma 21-11, 21-9; Aditya Elango bt Gauranshu Chopra 21-8, 21-18; P. Kashyap bt Dinesh Thirupati 21-11, 21-12; Anand Pawar bt Sagar Chopda 21-17, 7-1 (retired); Muhammad Hashim Hafiz (Mas) bt Ajith Wijetilak 21-12, 21-8.
Women (first round): 1- Saina Nehwal bt Thilini Jayasinghe 21-7, 21-10; Weni Fenetri Linda (Ina) bt 3-Aditi Mutatkar 21-14, 18-21, 21-11; Yushwandari Aprilla (Ina) bt 5-Fu Mingtian (Sin) 21-13, 22-20; P.C. Thulasi bt 4-Maja Tvrdy (Slo) 17-21, 21-9, 21-10; Sayali Gokhale bt Sahasrabudhe Sampad 21-7, 21-11; Dhanya Nair bt Hassan El Banna Noran (Egy) 21-5, 21-11; Gayatri Vartak bt Jui Agaskar 19-21, 21-10, 21-9; P.V. Sindhu bt Juhi Dewangan 21-12, 21-8; Gu Juan bt 7-Trupti Murgunde 21-15, 21-15.
Keywords: Yonex Sunrise-India Open Grand Prix