New Delhi : In a major upset, fourth seed Chetan Anand went down to unseeded Ajay Jayaram of Maharashtra, while top-ranked Anup Sridhar barely survived the battle against Sagar Chopda, also from Maharashtra, in the pre-quarterfinal of the first Pramod Mahajan All-India ranking badminton tournament at the Siri Fort Sports Complex here Thursday.
Anand, who has been off badminton for a few months and missed a couple of major tournaments waging a running battle with the Badminton Association of India, found it difficult to get into any rhythm and lost to Jayaram in straight games, 13-21, 24-26.
Anand, who had beaten Karnataka’s V. Kumar in the previous round, 21-11, 21-14, seemed like taking his match against Jayaram in to a decider when the Maharashtra youngster snatched the second game on extra points.
Sridhar also struggled to get into the groove. After taking the first game, he dropped the second. But recovered quickly to take the third to win 21-16, 19-21, 21-15.
Sridhar committed a lot of unforced errors in the match, but credit must also be given to his young opponent who displayed a lot of promise and smashed well.
“Earlier after the first match I said it was first match of the tournament so I was little out of sorts, but it takes a little time to get back into form. At the end of the day I won, which matters most, but I have to improve my game to win the tournament,” the world number 26 said after his match.
Sridhar now faces Karnataka’s K. Tanishak, who got the better of Air India’s Srujan Nandaluti (21-17, 14-21, 22-20).
National women’s champion Saina Nehwal had a cakewalk against Ashwini Ponnappa of Karnataka 21-3, 21-11, though the latter was able to win a few points in the second game.
“I am in good form at present and the three-four weeks training before the tournament helped me immensely. Last year I was not really fit enough which was visible in my game,” Nehwal said after the match.
Though Nehwal is seen as the possible winner of this tournament, but the 17-year-old Philippines Open champion said she should not be overconfident because anytime an upset can happen.
She will be up against local girl Anita Ohlan in the quarter-finals Friday. Ohlan earlier defeated Maharashtra’s Gayatri Vartak 21-17, 21-18 in the round of 16.