Guru Sai Dutt couldn't hide his joy at making his maiden Grand Prix gold category semifinal after his opponent Muhammad Hafiz Hashim of Malaysia, the second seed, retired in the second game of the Yonex Sunrise-India Open badminton championships at the Nehru Indoor Stadium here on Friday.
The Indian, seeded seventh, didn't show any trace of anxiety or pressure as he played judiciously — mixing attack with defence — to overwhelm the former All England champion in the first game 21-18. It came as a surprise when Hashim withdrew citing a knee problem with Dutt leading 16-15. All along, Hashim had maintained that he was physically fit for the tournament.
Hashim plays with a lazy elegance. His strokes carry as much power and grace. But Dutt was equal to the task. Trailing for the major part of the first game, Dutt rose to the occasion once he took a 16-15 lead. His two forehand smashes towards the end of the first game signalled his intent in ample measure.
Guru's confidence grew as he took a 9-6 lead but Hafiz equalled at 14-each. A few points later emerged the withdrawal. “I didn't want to aggravate my knee injury which I sustained during the Thomas Cup finals in May this year. But Guru played really well. He deserved the win,” said Hashim.
For Guru, this was a result of intense practice and preparations at National camps. “I am really happy with my game. I studied Hashim's game in the video. I was confident and went for my shots,” said Dutt, whose previous best was a semifinal appearance in a Grand Prix event in Lucknow last year.
Yunus Alamsyah of Indonesia upset Arvind Bhat, the fourth seed, 21-19, 21-19 to set up a clash with the top seed Chetan Anand. Like on Thursday, it wasn't a smooth journey for Chetan. The Malaysian Seang Tan Chun, looked like he would upset the top seed's calculations, but Chetan pulled up his socks in time to register a 21-15, 19-21, 21-16 win.
“I moved a lot better today. There is a lot of drift and that's going to make a difference,” said Chetan.
For Saina Nehwal, it's been really a cakewalk so far. She has not been stretched by any of her opponents. The top seed eased past Sayali Gokhale 21-4, 21-8 to reach the semifinals. Saina will next take on Aprilia Yuswandari of Indonesia and the only thing that can stop her is complacency.
The results (quarterfinals):
Men: Singles: 7-Guru Sai Dutt bt 2-Muhammad Hafiz Hashim (Mas) 21-18, 16-15 (retd.); 1-Chetan Anand bt Seang Tan Chun (Mas) 21-15, 19-21, 21-16; Yunus Alamsyah (Ina) bt 4-Arvind Bhat 21-19, 21-19; 3-P. Kashyap bt 6-Anand Pawar 12-21, 21-9, 21-12; Doubles: Yuris Wirawan Afiat/Sugiarto Rendy bt Rizki Delynugraha Mochamad/Rijal Muhammad (Ina) 21-8, 21-12; Fairuzuan Mohd./Zakry Abdul Latif Mohd. (Mas) bt S.D.S. Krishna/Manual Vineeth 21-13, 21-9; Yuris Wirawan Afiat/Bawa Chrisnanta Danny (Sin) bt Angriawan Berry/Ulinnuha Muhammad (Ina) 21-8, 21-12.
Women: Singles: Yuswandari Aprilia (Ina) bt Renuga Veeran 21-9, 21-6; 2-Choo Wong Mew (Mas) bt 8-Chen Jiayuan (Sin) 22-20, 21-19; 1-Saina Nehwal bt Sayali Gokhale; Weni Fanetri Linda (Ina) bt Juan Gu (Sin) 21-9, 21-17; Doubles: Destiara Haris Della/Rizki Andini Suci (Ina) bt Aparna Balan/Shruti Kurien 15-21, 21-10, 21-11; Yao Lei/Mulia Sari Shinta (Sin) bt Susanto Debby/Puspita Diil Richi (Ina) 21-13, 21-16.
Mixed doubles: Jwala Gutta / V. Diju bt Yan Vanessa Neo Yu / Kurniawan Saputra Hendri (Sin) 21-17, 19-21, 21-14; Gozali Jenna / Wadianto Riky (Ina) bt Renuga Veeran / Raj Veeran (Aus) 21-9, 21-13; Susanto Debby / Rijal Muhammad (Ina) bt Ashwini Ponnappa / Kona Tarun 21-9, 21-16.