AUSTRALIAN OPEN Day 1 – Macau champ and Indonesia runner-up deleted

India’s Kashyap Parupalli marched past Macau Open winner Zhao Junpeng and Indonesia Open runner-up Kazumasa Sakai to get a shot at the world #1 in the main draw of the […]

India’s Kashyap Parupalli marched past winner Zhao Junpeng and Indonesia Open runner-up Kazumasa Sakai to get a shot at the world #1 in the main of the Australian Badminton Open.

By Aaron Wong, Badzine Correspondent live in Sydney.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)

Parupalli primed

Returning after knee surgery, a dislocated shoulder and calf injury which sidelined him for the best part of a year, Kashyap Parupalli (pictured) reminded Badzine in the mixed zone that at the time his woes began, he was in the world’s top 10, only slightly below his career best #6 from 2013.

The Indian wasted no time in displaying the nuance and maturity of a 6-time semi-finalist.  He was naturally decisive tactically and traversed the court with efficiency to leave behind Macau Open winner Zhao Junpeng before 10 o’clock, 21-15, 21-18.  Zhao’s talent was apparent but anxiousness while smashing at one game down and roughly level at the second interval was an insufficient state of mind to handle the well-primed Parupalli.

Aware of the true toll of elite sport on a player’s body, the Indian remarked after his first match, “You know either of us could win this tournament.  At this level, I don’t know why the BWF schedule our matches within a couple of hours.  It isn’t difficult for them to put [the second] nearer the evening.  I’ve mentioned it before.”

His annoyance didn’t mask his joy at the simple norm of competing again: “Court conditions are great and I’m all healthy.  Ask me to play outdoors and I would.”

Kashyap, who had never won more than one match in Australia before today, dealt even more devastating blows to Sunday’s Indonesia Superseries Premier runner-up Kazumasa Sakai (pictured), 21-5, 21-16, but remained modest about how he excavated his route into the main draw to meet top seed and world #1 Son Wan Ho.  “[Sakai] is tired.  You can’t judge him on today’s performance.”

Parupalli’s ultra short execution on strokes, especially cross-court backhands at the net and mid-court, left even less time for Sakai’s legs to reach shots in his ninth match in eight days.  The Indian’s crisp smashes were heard above the four courts in action.  There is work still to do as there were signs of his sweet timing waning near the end.

“Taufik’s joined our team in February but when I returned in March I couldn’t keep up with the program.  It is reassuring to be in the hands of a who has produced a World Champion.

“India put two players in the Singapore final and narrowly missed doing the same in Jakarta.  I think he is making a difference and hope to benefit from it.  First to get my fitness back because the recovery from injuries meant sitting around for more than three months.”

Kashyap was playing against Son Wan Ho when he sustained the knee injury at the 2016 German Open that soon sealed his absence from the Rio Olympics.  It was also Son who stopped him in his only semi-final appearance since returning to court.  Wednesday will be a whole new game, though, with Kashyap in form and Son not playing at home.

Ueda up, Nishimoto not

After lunch, the second round of qualification showcased compatriots playing each other concurrently across three courts.  Chen Chun-Wei’s route was cut short by world #636 Kan Chao Yu (pictured bottom), who competed without the aid of a coach to win 21-15, 23-21. Taiwan national team member Chen was being supervised whereas Kan who isn’t one worked out the solution on his own.

There was little to choose between the qualities of Takuma Ueda (pictured) and Kenta Nishimoto.  The retrieval skills of both men were top notch.  Their scores diverged in the first game due to a couple of Nishimoto errors.  In the second game, Ueda’s risks paid off but Nishimoto’s didn’t.

The fully committed Nishimoto smash met the odd defensive reaction that landed untouchable shuttles back inside the short service area, probably a result of knowing each other’s games inside out.  The senior Ueda distinguished himself further by exercising net shot drives which he applied again on match point to secure a 21-16, 21-19, win and hence a berth in Round 1 proper.

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Aaron Wong

About Aaron Wong

Aaron Wong only ever coveted badminton's coolest shot - a reverse backhand clear. He is renowned for two other things: 1) Writing tournament previews that adjust the focus between the panorama of the sport's progress, down to the microscopic level of explaining the striking characteristics of players; 2) Dozing off during men's doubles at the London Olympic Games. Contact him at: aaron @ badzine.net