On a bitter-sweet day for India, Parupalli Kashyap rallied to shock World No. 1 Chen Long to enter the men’s singles semifinals even as Saina Nehwal bowed out with a quarterfinal loss to familiar foe Wang Shixian in the Indonesian Open Super Series badminton tournament in Jakarta on Friday.
Kashyap, ranked 12th in the world, came from behind to beat the top seed Chinese 14-21 21-17 21-14 in a contest that lasted an hour and three minutes. He will take on third-seeded Dane Jan O Jorgensen.
“Big win today ! Thru to semis now. Keep supporting,” Kahsyap tweeted.
However, Saina, who has won this tournament thrice in her career, went down 21-16 12-21 18-21 to old foe Wang Shixian of China in a 69-minute battle. This was the 13th face-off between the two and Wang has a 7-6 overall lead now.
Kashyap was the first to take the court on Friday and refused to be intimidated by the prospect of facing upto the world number one.
The Commonwealth gold-medallist Indian was consistent with his smashes and impeccable with his net play against his more fancied opponent.
Coming into this match, Long had a 7-1 head-to-head record against Kashyap. The numero uno shuttler over the last two years has emerged as China’s successor to the incomparable Lin Dan.
Incidentally, Kashyap’s last victory against Long came in this very tournament in 2012.
In what was a classic David vs Goliath battle, Kashyap used all his resources to overcome his rival.
One of the fastest movers and hardest hitters in the world, Long failed to counter Kashyap’s odd, precise smashes and started committing unforced errors.
In the opening game, Kashyap was hardly a match to Long, who not only opened up a 6-2 lead but consistently moved ahead.
Kashyap caught up with him on a couple of occasions but once the Chinese broke away from a tied 11-11 position to 16-11, there was no looking back for him. Long comfortably sealed the first game 21-14.
The second game went neck-and-neck till 7-7 before the Indian managed to take a slight lead and hold on to the advantage, always keeping his nose ahead.
Even though the experienced Chinese kept breathing down his neck, Kashyap wriggled out of some tricky situations to take the game to the decider.
In the third game, Kashyap broke away from tied 2-2 to take a 9-3 lead, even as Long committed too many unforced errors, hitting wide and long to hand over a massive 14-5 lead to the Indian.
In the end, it was a cakewalk for Kashyap, who made full use of his chances to sail through.
Saina snatched the momentum quite early as she raced to a 11-5 lead and built on it quite aggressively to clinch the opening game in 30 minutes.
But the experienced Wang roared back in the second game to draw level and make the battle interesting.
Saina had the initial edge in the decider, grabbing a 6-3 lead but Wang did not allow her to run away with it by making it 6-6.
A see-saw battle followed and the two players were locked 8-8 before Saina nosed ahead with a 15-10 lead. However, Wang fought back yet again to draw level at 15-15 and 17-17.
The Chinese star took the lead from there on and held her nerves to outwit the Indian, who has triumphed here in 2009, 2010 and 2012.