V. Diju and Jwala lose to Ahmad Tontowi and Liliyana Natsir

P. Kashyap came up with a strong performance in men’s singles to lift the spirits of the cheering Indian supporters at the Wembley Arena here onSaturday. The 25-year-old Kashyap was quite sharp to start with and handled the challenges from the talented left-hander from Belgium, Tan Yuhan, with poise and confidence 21-14, 21-12.

The Indian aspirations in mixed doubles suffered a jolt when the pair of V. Diju and Gutta Jwala suffered a straight-set defeat in a league match.

The 21st-ranked Kashyap was a class apart against the 54th- ranked Belgian and showed the ability to lift his game up after allowing his opponent to hang on to him till 12-13 in the opening game.

Kashyap moved his opponent around the court with and was sharp with his net dribbles and explosive smashes. He was willing to be patient during the tough rallies and caught the Belgian on the wrong foot often.

He raced ahead with the first game after being ahead 16-13 and took a 6-1 lead in the second game to retain the initiative. The Belgian was erratic in the second game, as Kashyap won six points on the trot to set up match-point at 20-8. However, Kashyap lost a bit of his concentration at this stage, and allowed his opponent to win four points, before Tan himself put a backhand into the net.

Kashyap next takes on Tien Minh Nguyen of Vietnam, the 10th seed. “The next match will decide if I progress, but I was pleased to win this one,’’ said Kashyap.

Jwala and Diju played well in patches as they combined crisp smashes with a delectable touch game, to raise hopes of a recovery but their third-seeded opponents Ahmad Tontowi and Liliyana Natsir of Indonesia packed more than a punch to win 21-16, 21-12.

The Indian pair has two more league matches.

Jwala-Ashwini falters

Later, Jwala and Ashwini Ponnappa played well but lost the key points while going down 16-21, 18-21 to the fourth-ranked Japanese duo of Fujii Mizuki and Reika Kakiwa in a women’s doubles league match.

After taking the lead for the first time in the contest, at 8-7 in the second game, the Indian girls messed it up by dropping five points on the trot.

The crowd came alive when Ashwini and Jwala stepped up their game to make it 14-16, but lost the next point rather tamely and were soon staring at defeat. Though the Indian girls saved a match point, Jwala’s backhand flew wide to signal victory for the Japanese.

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