Arvind Bhat: Indian's newest entrant in the roster of Grand Prix Gold champions
Indian badminton player Arvind Bhat reigned supreme at the German Open Grand Prix Gold event as he clinched his maiden Grand Prix title by defeating the Danish player Hans-Kristian Vittinghus in the men’s singles finals. His dream win here put an end to his wait of five years and nine months for a title; he had won his last title back in 2009. This win also makes him the first Indian to win a German Open title; the previous best result by an Indian was Pullela Gopichand reaching the finals way back in 1999.
On his way to the finals, the 34-year-old Bhat upset several top ranked players including the third seed Yun Hu and Chinese Taipei player Tien Chen Chou.
In the final that lasted for roughly an hour, both players were tested and were forced to produce their best. The first game was a close call where Arvind fought off game points and came back strongly to win the 24-22. That seemed to upset the 12th-seeded Danish player and it started to reflect in his body language. However, he levelled the match by winning the second game 21-19. Poised at a 12-11 lead in the deciding game, Arvind gave it his best to win nine consecutive points finish off the Dane with a thumping 21-11 score.
The win not only gave the Indian bragging rights, but also a 120,000$ cash prize.
Bhat, who lives in Bangalore, trained at the Prakash Padukone Academy, and his victory at the event makes him only the second Indian player to win a Grand Prix outside India – K Srikanth had won the first such title in Thailand last year.
The lanky player had previously won the national championships in 2008 and 2011, defeating Parupalli Kashyap in the finals both times. Bhat also won the Scottish Open in 2004 and the Syria Open, Jordan Open and Czech Open in the year 2007.
In recent times Bhat has only had middling results though, because of which his ranking had slipped all the way down to No. 87 before the start of this tournament. Even after this sterling result, though, he is grounded enough to accurately recognize the unique situation he’s in.
“It’s taken time, but it’s also taken time to come to terms with the fact that I was getting old!” he said after the final. “I had to accept that juniors were beating me in India, and they completely deserved being in the core group, even as us older guys were pushed to the sidelines,” he added.
Winning the Grand Prix so late in his career must definitely be very rewarding for Arvind, who also happens to be a mechanical engineer. Here’s hoping that he continues to play just as well in all of his future matches!