India’s Paralympic shuttlers endure tough challenges to advance to semifinals

Tarun Tarun shocks top seed and world No 2 Fredy Setiawan from Indonesia at Fazza-Dubai Para Badminton 2023

By Team KT

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India's Tarun Tarun in action in his quarter-final in Dubai. - Supplied photo
India's Tarun Tarun in action in his quarter-final in Dubai. - Supplied photo

Published: Sat 16 Dec 2023, 2:54 PM

In a day of thrilling encounters and upsets, India’s Tarun Tarun shocked top seed and world No 2 Fredy Setiawan from Indonesia to enter the semi-finals of the 5th Fazza Dubai Para Badminton International 2023.

Tarun, who claimed the Asian Para Games men’s doubles SL3-SL4 gold medal along with partner Nitesh Kumar, survived a second game scare after the Indonesian came back strong from 11-18 to make it 20-all. The Indian eventually won the match 21-, 23-21.

“I was prepared before the match mentally and physically,” said Tarun. “(But) I don’t know what happened, my metal focus was not there. Against Fredy, it has been always tight matches, and he comes back into the game after he gains his rhythm.

“Happy to pull it through today,” added Tarun who had lost to Setiawan recently at the Tokyo 2023 Para Badminton International.

For Tarun, it was also his first win over Setiawan since 2019. But the fifth ranked Indian, who underwent an ACL surgery last November, admitted that he must work on his mental strength going into the New Year.

He is now on his way to make amends of his Asian Para Games’ men’s singles campaign where he lost in pre-quarterfinals.

Indonesian top seeds Leani Ratri Oktila (left) and Khalimatus Sadiyah in action in their women's doubles SL3-SL4 quaterfinals. - Supplied photo
Indonesian top seeds Leani Ratri Oktila (left) and Khalimatus Sadiyah in action in their women's doubles SL3-SL4 quaterfinals. - Supplied photo

Tarun’s compatriot Suhas L. Yathiraj, the Asian Para Games champion in men’s singles SL4, also had to overcome a strong challenge from his Korean opponent Shin Kyung Hwan in three games 21-11, 19-21, 21-13. Yathiraj will next meet compatriot Sukant Kadam who had a rather comfortable opponent in Marcel Adam of Germany.

In men’s singles SL3, the day witnessed thrilling matches too. Nitesh had to endure a challenging time with a broken blade during his men’s singles SL3 match against Republic of Korea’s Joo Dangjae. The third ranked Indian eventually came back from a game down to win 17-21, 21-12, 21-17.

Stretched to the limit

Meanwhile, Paralympic champion Pramod Bhagat was stretched to the limit by Ukraine’s Oleksandr Chyrkov before advancing into the men’s singles SL3 semi-finals with a 21-14, 16-21, 21-11 scoreline.

“Oleksandr has been playing well. He produced a brilliant performance today, strategies to crack my game; it took time for me to get my rhythm: Bhagat

India's Thulasimathi Murugesan and Nitesh Kumar strike a pose after reaching the semi-finals of mixed doubles SL3-SU5 event. - Suipplied photo
India's Thulasimathi Murugesan and Nitesh Kumar strike a pose after reaching the semi-finals of mixed doubles SL3-SU5 event. - Suipplied photo

“Once I did, I changed my pattern of game. The next step is going to be tough,” added the Indian who will face Japan’s Daisuke Fujihara in the semifinals.

Nitesh faces world no. 1 Daniel Bethell in the men’s singles SL3 semi-finals.

Elsewhere, Paralympic champion Krishna Nagar was shown the doors by France’s Charles Noakes in straight games 21-14, 21-15 in men’s singles SL6 quarterfinals while Malaysia’s Muhammad Fareez Anuar surprised Asian Para Games champion Dheva Anrimusthi of Indonesia 21-15, 18-21, 21-10 in men’s singles SU5 last-eight match.

In wheelchair events, Paralympic champions and top seeds Choi Jungman of Korea and China’s Qu Zimo (MS WH1) and Japanese Daiki Kajiwara (MS WH2), Germany's Man-Kei To (WS WH1) and Korea's Jung Gyeoul and Liu Yu Tong of China (WS WH2) all made a smooth sailing into the semi-finals.

Unseeded Nigerian upset Joshi

In women’s standing events, Nigeria’s Mariam Eniola Bolaji continued to surprise everyone with her winning run. On Friday, the 25th ranked Bolaji shocked world no. 5 Manasi Joshi in straight games 21-13, 21-11.

“I am very glad to win the match; Joshi has been one of the champions here. I was in Spain for three weeks training with coach Dina Mita and the training was fruitful,” said Bolaji who won the Uganda International 2023 before winning three gold medals at Africa Open Championships in Uganda.

Bolaji is looking forward to her match against China’s Asian Para Games champion Xiao Zuxian in the women’s singles SL3 semifinals.

Among others, Indonesians Paralympic stars Leani Ratri Oktila and Khalimatus Sadiyah advanced and will meet each other in the women’s singles SL4 semi-finals. The Indonesians have also together made the women’s doubles SL3-SU5 semi-finals as partners.

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Oktila and Sadiyah also advanced in their SL3-SU5 mixed doubles matches partnering with Hikmat Ramdani and Setiawan, respectively.

Meanwhile, Bhagat alongwith Manisha Ramadass and Nitesh and his partner Thulasi Murugesan made it to the mixed doubles SL3-SU5 semi-finals.


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