After a sloppy start to their campaign, Delhi Dashers finally got on to winning ways as they trumped Hyderabad Hunters 5-0 on New Year’s Eve in New Delhi at the Siri Fort Indoor Stadium.
In the second men’s singles clash, Delhi Dashers’ Tian Houwei was entrusted with the responsibility of playing the trump match against the world No 16 B Sai Praneeth and the Chinese lived up to the expectations as he emerged triumphant 15-14, 14-15, 15-10 in a hard-fought battle.
The clash started on an even note but Sai raced away to a 12-8 lead. The experienced Tian fought back to clinch it 15-14.
In the second game, Sai lead 8-6 at the break but Tian kept irking him with his drop shots and it looked like it was all over for the world No 16 as he trailed 11-14. But the Hyderabadi displayed awe-inspiring grit to take the tie into the decider as he came back from the dead and won the game 15-14.
After firing on all cylinders, Sai looked fatigued and Tian raced away to a 12-5 lead to eventually clinch the match 15-10.
Earlier, Olympic champion Carolina Marin pulled off a stunning victory over world No 6 Sung Ji Hyun of Korea to keep the Hunters alive.
Sung Ji Hyun, who had beaten Marin in both their meetings last season, could not continue her winning streak as she went down 10-15, 12-15. A win for Delhi would have tightened the noose on Hyderabad but Sung Ji failed to build on the momentum.
Vincent’s first win of the season
Vincent Wong Wing Ki of Hong Kong pulled off a major coup over Hunters’ trump player Lee Hyun Il of South Korea in a pulsating contest to help Delhi go 2-0 up. World No 15 Vincent, who came into the tie with two losses in two matches this season, went down 12-15 in the first game.
He, however, came back strong to win the second game 15-11 and force the match into a decider.
Vincent raced to a 10-4 lead. An error-prone Lee had no answers to his opponent’s fast pressing game and finally went down 4-15. Hunters, after the tie, were at -1.
Ivanov-Sozonov pair gives Dashers an early lead
The Dashers started off the tie with a win. Russian men’s doubles pair of Ivan Sozonov/ Vladimir Ivanov breezed past Indonesia/Korean combination of Markis Kido/ Yoo Yeon Seong 15-9, 15-11. The Dashers pair, which had not opened its account in the season, blitzed to the break with an 8-5 lead. After the interval, they continued to hammer down their smashes to seal the opening game.