Commonwealth Games champion Parupalli Kashyap clinched his first international title in over three years as he overcame Malaysia’s June Wei Cheam to emerge men’s singles champion at the Austrian Open International Challenge.
Kashyap, a former National champion and second seed, saw off Cheam 23-21 21-14 in a 37-minute clash late last night.
“It has been a tough week. I haven’t won so many matches in a single tournament for quite sometime and then playing two rounds in a day was tough. I have been struggling against almost same set of players in the last three super series and I knew I have to cross them here. So happy with my performance,” Kashyap told PTI.
His last title came at the Syed Modi International Badminton Championships in 2015.
The 31-year-old Indian, who had reached the finals of US Open Grand Prix Gold last year, looked in good touch throughout the tournament as he didn’t drop a single game en route the title.
The final, however, was not a cakewalk as world number 126 Cheam matched Kashyap in the first game, which went down to the wires. In the end, the Indian, ranked 44, had to save three game points before pocketing the first game.
Kashyap looked in better control in the second game and eventually sealed the contest in 37 minutes.
“My fitness was at the top level this week and I was able to push them and they cracked. I have been lacking in confidence of late, so this tournament gave me that confidence to pull off those tight matches where you are down by a couple of points,” he said.
“I was down in the semifinals, quarterfinals and also in the finals but I didn’t panic and could pull off the matches. In final, I was leading 18-15 then he pushed the pace and changed his strategy. But I could recover and stop him. I didn’t rush in end stages. I was in my comfort zone. So it was a new approach to the tournament.”
A former world no 6, Kashyap had been wrecked by a calf muscle tear, went under the knife for a knee injury, suffered a dislocation of his right shoulder, a hamstring pull and an abdominal strain — all within the last few years. Comeback has been hard and his ranking slipped significantly.
“I plan to train for four weeks and then play at Orleans Masters later next month. The plan is to be inside top 30 by May end and make the main draws of super series events. I have time to train after Orlean before going to Australia and New Zealand in May.”