UAE's Bharath Latheesh sets up clash with world number six Kodai Naraoka

My target is to give my best tomorrow, Latheesh said after winning his first match at the Badminton Asia Championships in Dubai


Rituraj Borkakoty

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Bharath Latheesh in action at the Dubai 2023 Badminton Asia Championships. — Supplied photo
Bharath Latheesh in action at the Dubai 2023 Badminton Asia Championships. — Supplied photo

Published: Tue 25 Apr 2023, 10:06 PM

Bharath Latheesh grew up idolising Lee Chong Wei, the legendary Malaysian player. While the 15-year-old Latheesh has a long way to go before he could hope of joining the world's best in badminton, the UAE youngster nevertheless gave a glimpse into the future on Tuesday.

Latheesh recorded two impressive wins on the opening day of the Dubai 2023 Badminton Asia Championships at the Rashid bin Hamdan Hall in Al Nasr Club.

The rising star of the UAE badminton, who came into the Asian championships on the back of title wins in the junior categories at the Uganda Open and Spanish Open, beat Yousif Al Humairi of Iraq 21-9, 21-8 before defeating Salar Bayat of Iran 21-16, 21-13 to enter the main draw of the prestigious badminton championship.

"It's a great feeling to win these matches at the Asia Championships. I was expecting to play well. But I did not expect to win the matches comfortably. So I am happy obviously how I won today," Latheesh told reporters after his victories in the qualifying round.

With the comprehensive wins on Tuesday, Latheesh set up a clash with world number six Kodai Naraoka of Japan.

"Now I am excited to play my next match tomorrow. As I said, this is an amazing opportunity against the best players in the world. My target is to give my best tomorrow,” Latheesh said.

Meanwhile, 17-year-old twin brothers Dev Ayyappan and Dhiren Ayyappan of the UAE also won their doubles match against Bangladesh's Abdul Hamid Lukman and Gourab Singha 16-21, 21-15, 21-19.

Top stars in action

The top seeds will begin their campaigns in the tournament on Wednesday.

Defending champion and world number four Lee Zii Jia of Malaysia will hope for a perfect start to his campaign when he faces Angus Ng Ka Long, the world number 15 from Hong Kong, on Wednesday.

In women's singles, Wang Zhiyi of China will launch her title defence on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, reigning world champion Akane Yamaguchi of Japan and Indian star PV Sindhu, the 2019 world champion and two-time Olympic medallist, will also open their campaigns on Wednesday.

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