SINGAPORE OPEN 2010 RD 2 SINGAPORE OPEN 2010 – Incredible India!

The Indians were at full force on Day 3 of the 2010 Li-Ning Singapore Open Super Series, with representatives in all 5 events. Spearheading their challenge in Singapore is women’s […]


The Indians were at full force on Day 3 of the 2010 Li-Ning Super Series, with representatives in all 5 events. Spearheading their challenge in Singapore is women’s singles top seed Saina Nehwal, but it was her less illustrious teammates that stole the limelight today.

By Pearlyn Kwang, Badzine Correspondent, live from Singapore Indoor Stadium. Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)

Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa (pictured) provided their country with their first major upset of the day by dumping the world #6 duo of Miyuki Maeda and Satoko Suetsuna (pictured below) out of the tournament.

“I’m just really happy,” said Gutta after the nail-biting match. “It is our biggest win in a Super Series. I believe (my partner) cannot believe it as well.”

Both pairs have played each other thrice before, and it always went the full three-game distance. All three previous meetings saw the Japanese duo prevail, but history did not repeat itself this time. The unseeded Indian pair fought valiantly in the final set, and despite trailing 8-12 at one point of time, they manage to claw their way back to earn their first quarter-final appearance in a Super Series. 

“It was very tough. The Japanese have really good defence, it was difficult to break their defence. So what we did was to hit really hard,” commented Gutta, when asked about their strategy for the match.

“(Also) we’re a relatively new pairing, and my partner (Ponnappa) is just 20 years old. She’s still not very experienced, so we take it easy. There’s no pressure for us, whereas they are the first-seeds,” added the 1.80m tall Indian.

sin2010-japanThe world #18 pair was the runner-up last week at the India Grand Prix, losing the title after a fierce battle. This week, standing between them and a semi-final berth is none other than the very duo who defeated them last week in the finals – Shinta Mulia Sari and Yao Lei.

To top it off, the rising young pair will have the home crowd to back them up during the quarter-finals on Friday, undoubtedly making it a more arduous task for the Indian ladies to exact revenge. Nevertheless, Gutta remains unfazed by their competition. “We look forward to the tie, and we just want to enjoy the match tomorrow.”

Gutta had earlier qualified for the mixed doubles quarter-final as well, and will face second seeds Thomas Laybourn and Kamilla Rytter Juhl with partner Diju Valiyaveetil. A busy day on Friday for the 26 year old lady from Hyderabad, but husband Chetan Anand will just have to settle for supporting her at the sidelines, after losing to Indonesia’s Simon Santoso 17-21, 15-21.

Another Indian surprise

Not contented with just his compatriots’ triumph, Kashyap Parupalli  followed up with another upset on his own, and the casualty this time was Nguyen Tien Minh (pictured below left), seeded third for the men’s singles event.

It was a miraculous first set for the 23 year old Indian – despite trailing Nguyen most of the time, a sudden twist of fate locked the two players in a tight battle, with Parupalli eventually capturing the first game 23-21.

Gaining new found confidence, the Vietnamese ace never stood a chance against the empowered Parupalli in the second game. The match was over in 47 minutes, and Nguyen was left dejected over his performance.

“I’m very upset,” sighed the Vietnamese. “Very, very upset.”

It was celebration for the unheralded Kashyap Parupalli (pictured below right) though, having entered his first Super Series quarter-final. “I played smarter than him,” he declared. “I engaged him in long rallies, and when the time comes, smash. I also played a variety of shots.”

“The conditions of the court are really bad, but it’sin2010-Nguyens the same for most Super Series, so I try not to bother about it.”

When asked to rate his chances at the tournament, the number three men’s singles player in his country replied, “I think I can make it to the semi-finals. I’m confident of winning the quarter-final match, as I will be playing another Indian, and I think I can beat him.”

His compatriot-cum-opponent in question is Arvind Bhat, ranked just 2 places above him in the recently updated world ranking. Bhat saw off the challenge of England’s Rajiv Ouseph 17-21, 21-14, 21-13 to ensure India a berth in the men’s singles semi-finals.

India will feature in four events on Friday after men’s doubles representatives Rupesh Kumar/Sanave Thomas succumbed to ex-world champions Howard Bach and Tony Gunawan.

A change in training regime

There is no hiding the fact that the India camp seem to perform exceptionally well in recent months, and the main reason for it, as one of the Indian coaches told Badzine, is the change in training environment and focus.

“All the players from over the country now train solely at Hyderabad, so they have a more centralized environment. Asin2010-Parupallill the top players will now get to spar with players of similar standards instead of just being able to spar with players from their own province in the past.”

“Indian players always had good techniques and skills. The main problem is with their fitness, which is why we are now focusing mainly on building their fitness during training. And as you can see, it helped.”

He added that the intensive training and participation in tournaments like the Singapore Super Series are to prepare the players for the New Delhi Commonwealth Games in October.

“I’m very pleased with their performance here.”

A good sign for the Commonwealth Games?  Perhaps.

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About Pearlyn Kwang