Young star PV Sindhu and the experienced pair of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa were on Friday assured of bronze medals after reaching their respective semifinals in the women’s singles and women’s doubles events of the prestigious Asian Badminton Championship here.
World No.10 Sindhu took close to an hour to outwit Ongbumrungpan Busanan 14-21, 21-13, 21-10 to stretch her head-to-head record against the Thailand girl to 3-0, at the Gimcheon Indoor Stadium.
The 18-year-old, who had won the bronze medal at the World Championship last year, will next look to avenge her India Super Series loss to China’s Shixian Wang, the two-time reigning All England Champion.
In the women’s doubles competition, Commonwealth Games gold medallists Jwala and Ashwini, who had won the bronze at the 2011 London World Championship and also represented India at the 2012 Olympics, notched up a 21-12, 21-12 win over Malaysian pair of Anscelly Amelia Alicia and Soong Fie Cho in a 40-minute match.
In the men’s singles, RMV Gurusaidutt, however, suffered a heartbreak. The rising Indian shuttler played his heart out before losing 24-22, 9-21, 13-21 to Liu Kai of China in a match that lasted an hour. Sindhu faltered with her smashes in the first game and made a few errors as Busanan took the game away to put the Indian on the backfoot, before she bounced back brilliantly in the second.
Down 8-10 in the second, Sindhu produced cross court smashes and played well at the net too, even as Busanan’s game became error-prone.
In the third game, Sindhu dominated right from start and comfortably closed the door on her rival. “Overall, it was a good match. Sindhu played very well apart from the first game. From the second game onwards, she was up and her smashes also improved and she dominated the third game,” National coach Pullela Gopichand said.
Sindhu’s father Ramana was confident that Sindhu would be able to avenge her loss to Shixian on Saturday. “She will play well tomorrow and beat Shixian. She is world number two but I think Sindhu knows what she has to do,” he said.
Jwala and Ashwini, who had snapped their partnership after the London Olympics only to join hands late last year, will next take on China’s Luo Ying and Luo Yu.
In the men’s singles, Guru had a difficult time taming Liu but his determination and grit helped him to eke out a 24-22 win in the first game and earn the bragging rights. However, Guru could not play at the same pace in the second and third game as the Chinese broke the game plan of the Indian to eventually slam the door on him. “I didn’t start well in the second and third game. He slowed down the game and kept me at the back most of the time,” said a dejected Guru.
Ashwini Ponnappa said the win today was a big boost for her and her partner Jwala Gutta. “It is a great win and a big boost for us. We played very well today. We just hang in there and dominated the match, leading all through. We knew it was a matter of time before we get results. We knew we just have to practice. And more we iplay we will get better,” Ponnappa said.
Asked about their next round rival, Ashwini said: “They are a good pair. We played against them in Singapore and we lost. Let’s see. We will give our best.”
Adhiban fells Jumabayev, is joint second
Sharjah: Grandmaster and former national champion B Adhiban bounced back in style and defeated Rinat Jumabayev of Kazakhstan in the eighth round of 13th Asian Continental Chess championship here on Thursday.
After an out-of-sorts display in the previous round when he lost to Ni Hua of China, Adhiban came roaring back to form and jumped to joint second spot with just one round left in the event that is a part of the next world championship cycle.
Yu Yangyi of China emerged as the sole leader after outwitting compatriot and top seed Bu Xiangzhi in a keenly contested game. Yangyi, who is the world junior champion currently, took his tally to 6.5 points out of a possible 8.
Adhiban, Ni Hua and former world champion Rustam Kasimdzhanov of Uzbekistan share the second spot on six points each and all of them should make it to the coveted top five slots that guarantees a place in the world chess cup of 2015.
Former Asian champion Parimarjan Negi and S P Sethuraman are the other Indians in with a chance, but for that they will have to win the last round and hope for some other favourable results on other boards. In the penultimate round, Negi played a fine game to beat Ehsan Ghaem Maghami of Iran, while Sethuraman accounted for Batchuluun Tsegmed of Mongolia.
Among other Indians in the fray, Abhijeet Gupta bowed out of contention after losing to local star A R Salem Saleh, while Krishnan Sasikiran moved to five points at the expense of Ziaur Rahman of Bangladesh.
Adhiban had to win with black — a daunting task in Grandmaster level chess. Going for the King’s Indian defense, Adhiban made sure he landed in a complicated position as Jumabayev went for the Bayonet attack. Adhiban showed better preparation and understanding of middle game. He capitalised on a dubious pawn sacrifice by the Kazakh. Adhiban decided to eventually return the pawn but by then he had control thanks to his better placed pieces. Jumabayev succumbed under pressure.
In the women’s championship being held simultaneously, Eesha Karavade remained the only Indian in with a chance for a podium finish after settling for a draw with Hoang Thi Bao Tram of Vietnam. Irine Kharisma Sukandar of Indonesia won the gold medal with a round to spare, taking her tally to an unassailable seven points in this section.