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Dubai para badminton: Top Indians reach knockout stage

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Dubai, April 1 (IANS) It was yet another comfortable day for top Indian Para Badminton stars as they advanced to the knockout stage of the 3rd Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum Dubai Para Badminton International here on Thursday.

Top seeds Pramod Bhagat (MS SL3), Parul Parmar (WSSL3), Krishna Nagar (MS SH6), among others, won their respective singles and doubles matches in emphatic manner at the Shabab Al Ahli Club.

Bhagat, the reigning world champion, said he is aiming for nothing less than gold in singles and men’s doubles SL3-SL4 where he is paired with Manoj Sarkar and is top seeded.

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The Indian defeated newcomer from Maldives Abdul Latheef Mohamed 21-10, 21-9 in his third-round singles match. He will face Ukun Rukaendi in the quarter-finals on Friday.

“I would like to thank BWF and Dubai organisers for creating a wonderful atmosphere to play in this Covid situation. I am enjoying playing here after a long time,” said Bhagat.

Nagar felt a good show at the tournament will boost his confidence going ahead in this important year of Paralympics and World Championships. The Rajasthan player pulled off an easy 21-12, 21-5 win over Ukraine’s Nina Kozlova.

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The SH6 men’s and women’s category has been combined at this championship owing to the lesser number of players.

However, Manasi Joshi, the reigning world champion and second seed, was stretched before winning it against Turkey’s Halime Yildiz 21-13, 13-21, 21-17 in a 38-minute women’s singles SL3 Group B match.

“It’s always tough to play against Halime, a strong opponent. She played very well and gave a tough fight. I also made a few mistakes which I will try to avoid as we progress to the next round. I felt a lot of energy in the whole stadium today,” said Joshi.

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On Wednesday, Joshi had overcome Ukrainian Oksana Kozyna in three sets in her second-round match.

Joshi and Parmar are expected to play the women’s singles SL3 finals. Parmar, in fact, had won two out of three doubles matches also, alongside Palak Kohli in women’s doubles SL3-SU5.

The highlight of the day was Nitesh Kumar pulling off a shock win over third seed Indonesia Ukun Rukaendi 21-10, 21-13 in men’s singles SH3 third-round match.

“It feels great to win against a high ranked player and especially against a player who has been a world champion and is consistent about his performance. This boosts my confidence for the upcoming matches,” said Nitesh.

Third seed Sukant Kadam who beat Turkey’s Sedat Tuemkaya 21-11, 21-18 in a men’s singles SL4 match. “As we still didn’t enter into real computation, these initial rounds were a bit easy. But match by match I am getting to know how the other players are playing. This is also a good assessment of our own games,” Kadam said.

Kadam is expected to face Indonesia’s Freddy Setiawan in the semi-finals.

Among others, Indonesia’s top player and world champions Leani Ratri Oktila and Dheva Anmirusthi, France’s Lucas Mazur too advanced in singles and doubles events, but felt that they still needed some time to get used to the conditions.

As many as 127 players from 29 countries, including hosts United Arab Emirates, are competing in the championships.

–IANS

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