Parupalli Kashyap, India’s top ranked male player, took on Vietnamese Tien Minh Nguyen in a winner-takes-all Group D match. With both having beaten Yuhan Tan of Belgium, the winner of this match would go through to the knock-outs. Kashyap, having struggled against his opponent in recent encounters, was playing in black as compared to Nguyen’s blue.
The start was fairly close, with Kashyap mixing defense and offense in good measures, but Nguyen stood firm, reaching 5-all. A long rally saw Kashyap smash home the point to take a slender two point lead at 7-5. A further combination of aggression and wiliness saw Kashyap stretch his lead to five points, going into the break at 11-6. Nguyen emerged from the break determined to attack, and while he stuck to the plan, he found the going difficult. Kashyap continued to outwit him, and this, combined with errors from the player in blue, gave Kashyap a nine-point lead at 17-8. Everything Kashyap tried seemed to fall in place, giving the Indian 11 game points at 20-9. One game point was all he needed, however, with the game wrapped up at 21-9.
The second game began in similar fashion to the first, with scores tied at 3-all. Kashyap again took a slender lead, going up 5-3, but was soon pegged back to 5-all. Nguyen seemed to playing with much greater purpose than in the first game, and a clever deception with his serve saw him lead by a point at 7-6. Kashyap, however, broke Nguyen’s defence with ease, while keeping his own rock solid, to take a four point lead at the interval. Everywhere Nguyen went, he found Kashyap, who was in phenomenal form; Kashyap stretched his lead to reach 17-11. Nguyen made a minor comeback of sorts, bagging 3 points in a row. It wasn’t meant to last though, and Kashyap prevailed 21-14.
A player who was on the verge of not qualifying for the Olympics, having to save a match point enroute his qualification for the Olympics, Kashyap let his emotions emerge, beaming brightly at the cameras. Through to the round of 16, and in irresistible form, Kashyap seems on course for a tough challenge to reach the summit. We wish him all the best!
For the story of how Kashyap made it to the Olympics in spectacular fashion, check this wonderful story; the dive that changed Kashyap’s destiny.
Result: Parupalli Kashyap (IND) bt Tien Minh Nguyen 21-9 21-14.