In a dismal day for Indian badminton players, they lost their semifinal matches in the three categories against their opponents in the Russian Open Grand Prix badminton tournament at Vladivostok on Saturday. It all began with Ajay Jayaram in the men’s singles. Jayaram had made good progress in the tournament but Tommy Sugiarto was too much for Ajay Jayaram. The Indonesian left no option to Jayaram with his powerful show and Jayaram couldn’t find a way to match the no.1 seed. In the men’s doubles match, Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy did their best against the Russian top seeds Vladimir Ivanov and Ivan Sozonov but lost in three games after winning the first. In mixed doubles match too, the Indian pair of Akshay Dewalkar and Prajakta Sawant caved in easily against Japanese duo of Yuta Watanabe and Arisa Higashino.
After exemplary show until the semifinal stage, Indian badminton stars couldn’t hold against their rivals on Saturday. Ajay Jayaram had a tough opponent in Indonesia’s Tommy Sugiarto although the Indian fought well closely in the first game. The Indonesian surged ahead on two occasions; once at 5-5 and then again at 15-15 and his speed kept Jayaram on the back foot. Jayaram did his best but lost the first game 17-21. The second game belonged to Sugiarto, who pushed Jayaram all the way and completely unsettled him to finish the match 21-17, 21-7 in 33 minutes. Despite his loss in the semifinal to the tournament’s top seed, Jayaram had a good outing at the Russian Open. In the final, Tommy Sugiarto will take on Estonia’s Raul Must, who defeated Malaysia’s fourth seed Zulfadli Zulkiffli 21-12, 21-10.
Following Jayaram’s loss in men’s singles, India’s men’s doubles pair of Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy also lost their semifinal match to top seeds Vladimir Ivanov and Ivan Sozonov of Russia. The Indian duo put up a gallant fight and began by winning the first game 21-19. But the Russians came back strongly in the second and third games to run away with a 19-21, 21-7, 21-16 victory in 43 minutes. On Sunday, the Russian duo will play against Malaysian second seeds V Shem Goh and Wee Kiong Tan, who had a marathon 75-minute semifinal match against their compatriots Thien How Hoon and Khim Wah Lim before winning at 15-21, 21-19, 21-18.
India suffered their third rout of the day when the mixed doubles combo of Akshay Dewalkar and Prajakta Sawant also went down 10-21, 8-21 against Japan’s Yuta Watanabe and Arisa Higashino. The Japanese pair proved too strong for the Indians as Dewalkar/Sawant couldn’t provide even a semblance of a fight in a match that was over in a mere 22 minutes. To win the title on Sunday, Watanabe/Higashino will have to beat Malaysian pair of Peng Soon Chang and Liu Ying Goh, who had an eventful entry to the final, when their Russian opponents Vitalij Durkin and Nina Vislova had to leave the court because of unavoidable circumstances. Durkin/Vislova were trailing 20-22 after 26 minutes of play in the first game before they decided to retire.