Parupalli Kashyap waltzed his way past Tien Minh Nguyen in just 35 minutes to clinch his second victory and a spot in the pre-quarterfinals. It brightened the day for an otherwise disappointed Indian contingent that took some tough losses in the Archery event. Even as the Archers made a beeline to the exit, Kashyap roused spirits with a display that mocked the rankings as he toyed with the world No. 10 to clinch a comfortable 21-9, 21-14 victory in quick time.
Nguyen was once ranked as high as 5th in the world and had beaten Kashyap in their last three encounters – twice in 2011 and once this year at the Swiss Open in March. However, it was Kashyap who got away to a 4-1 flyer to start the match on the front foot. Even though the Vietnamese fought his way back to 5-5, Kashyap won 8 of the next eleven points to take a comfortable 13-8 lead.
Kashyap is a revelation when he is in flow and Nguyen was learning it the hard way at the raucous Wembley Arena which was reverberating with unstinted support for the 21st ranked Indian. The first game ended on a dominant note for Kashyap, agile at the net and powerful from the back of the court running his opponent ragged to take it 21-9.
Nguyen though, wasn’t going down without a fight. In a determined effort, he stayed with Kashyap to 6-6 in the second game. But the Indian was beginning to own the net as he opened up a four point gap when the players took an interval break at 11-7. Moving around the court like a finely tuned German car, Kashyap jumped to a commanding 18-11 lead to reach within touching distance of a spot in the pre-quarters.
Kashyap, who looked in sublime form, took 19 minutes to finish the second game. The manner in which the Indian opened up the court for his winners betrayed his stature as the lower ranked player on court. Kashyap finished with a brilliant flourish when he sent down a powerful cross court smash to the left of the dispirited Nguyen.
Kashyap had beaten Belgian Tan Yuhan yesterday to register two wins and top Group D. His opponent in the round of 16 will be Sri Lankan Niluka Karunaratne, who is ranked 48th. A spot in the quarterfinals is certainly on the racket of the 25 year old Indian when they meet on Wednesday.
In the mixed doubles event, Jwala Gutta and Valiyaveetil Diju made it three in a row when they lost tamely to the South Korean pair of Ha Jung Eun and Lee Yong Dae 15-21, 15-21 in just 27 minutes. Ironically, even the Koreans were already out of the tournament, so this victory served merely as a consolation.
The Indians fought back gallantly from 9-20 to win six straight points, but Jwala made an error to hand the Koreans the first game. The second game stayed even till 12-12, but the Koreans raced away from that point to close out the second game in 13 minutes. Jwala will be on court again in the evening with Ashwini Ponnappa, where they need a victory over their Singaporean opponents to advance to the round of 16.
Archers fail to make a mark
In other competitions though, India was facing rough weather. Jayanta Talukdar had plenty of hopes riding on his success but he met his match in Wukie Jacobs of the USA. The individual campaign is played in the best of five format, with each set worth two points – 2 for a win and 1 for a tie. Wukie took the first set 27-22 to go ahead 2-0.
The second set saw 49th ranked Wukie make a perfect 30 to 26 from Talukdar. The final set was more even, but even then the American scored an upset victory when he sealed it 29-28 to clinch a thumping 6-0 victory over the 19th ranked Indian. Wukie shot the bulls eye six times to just once by his fancied opponent, summarising the miserable outing for the fumbling Indian archer.
Chekrovolu Swuro began her assault on the target a little after 0300pm against the American Jennifer Nichols. The encounter between Swuro and Nichols was a humdinger that was decided on the narrowest of margins. Swuro began well enough to take the first set 27-24, but her aim wavered in the second set. Nichols took advantage to draw level by taking it 27-25.
The third set ended at 25 points each, leaving the pair tied at 3-3. Swuro sent Indian hopes soaring in the fourth set with two 10s to take it 29-26 and get within a point of victory. But as in the second, her aim faltered again and Nichols took the set 28-24 to draw level at 5-5 with the Indian. The single arrow shoot-off that followed left the Indian heartbroken. Both players made a 9, but Nichols’ arrow was closer to the Bulls Eye and the judges awarded the contest to her 6-5.
With the exit of these two, Indian hopes rest on the shoulders of Rahul Banerjee (1930hrs) and Tarundeep Rai (2045hrs) who will take on their Mongolian and Cuban opponents respectively later on this evening for a spot in the last 16.
Later tonight, we will have the Indian doubles teams take court at the AELTC to battle for a place in the quarter-finals, incidentally against two French teams. Leander Paes & Vishnu Vardhan will take on Michael Llodra & Jo Wilfried Tsonga. In the other match, Mahesh Bhupathi & Rohan Bopanna are scheduled to face off against Julien Benneteau and Richard Gasquet.
Indian Judoka Garima Chaudhary lasted just a minute and 21 seconds against Japanese Yoshie Ueno to add to the growing list of Indians on the wrong side of the result sheet. We do have some boxing action to look forward to later in the evening when Devendro Singh will take on Beyron Figueroa in the 49kg category at 1900hrs. In a late night matchup, Manoj Kumar will face off against Serdar Hudayberdiyev in the 64kg category. This one though is for the bleary eyed and the insomniac as it starts at 0215hrs (01st August in India).