Aug 10 — Hosts India suffered its first loss when in-form Rupesh Kumar and Thomas Sanave went down to Japanese Kenichi Hayakawa and Kenta Kazuno in a close battle in the men’s doubles first round of the World Badminton Championships at the Balayogi Stadium at the Gachibowli here Monday.
The Indian duo put up a tough fight against the 14th seed Japanese pair, but went down 13-21, 21-23 in 39 minutes.
In the singles, defending champion Lin Dan faced no problem in getting past Israel’s Misha Zilberman 21-9, 21-11, in the first round, while Danish World No.3 Peter Gade also sailed past Ukraine’s Valeriy Atrashchenkov 21-11, 21-16.
It was veteran Dicky Palyama of the Netherlands, who created a flutter, as he upset Chinese Bao Chunlai 21-18, 21-14 to advance to the second round.
India had high hopes from the world No.18 doubles pair of Rupesh and Thomas, who recently won the New Zealand Open and were runner-up in Australian Open. But the duo squandered a lot of opportunities. They were leading 20-16 in the second game, but failed to clinch any of the four game points.
“It was not our day,” Rupesh said. “We did not get a start. The feeling was not there and also there was lot of drift. We did not get used to the conditions.”
“After winning the New Zealand Grand Prix we were high on confidence. We beat a Japanese pair in the final and today our opponents were also of the same level.
“We almost pulled it off, but for some silly errors. We were leading in the second game and we should have held on to the advantage but we lost out because of a lapse in concentration,” he added.
Rupesh also said that he faced problems with the drift due to the air-conditioning. During the Indian Open, also held at the same venue, players had complained about similar problems.
“I was not able to judge the momentum of the shuttle. It was very difficult out there,” said Rupesh.
Gade also said there was little bit of drift, but said it was typical of an Asian venue.
Dutchman Palyama, 30, said that he kept his nerves during crucial moments of the game to stun Bao.
“This is an important victory in my career. I beat Bao four years back at the Korean Open. I have also lost to him twice. He is a good player and won the Singapore Open. I kept my nerves when I was leading. Suddenly I thought that I can win this game and then I stayed calm and did not think of the outcome,” said Palyama, a regular at the World Championships since 1997.
“I am getting married next year and I am getting older, but I am happy that I am still able to fight against the Chinese and beat younger players. You have to be mentally very strong to beat the Chinese and Malaysian players. Also in Holland we don’t get too many players to train with unlike in China and other Asian countries,” said Palyama, who incidentally will be tying the knot with a Chinese-born.
“She is not a badminton player and she is brought up in Holland,” said the Indonesian-born.