Nineteen-year-old Ashmita Chaliha of India won the Dubai International Challenge badminton tournament on Sunday after beating sixth seed Jeon Jui of Korea 21-19, 21-15 in the final.
This was the first international tournament Chaliha participated in on the senior circuit, apart from the Asian Games earlier this year. The Assamese had represented India in the Asian Games mixed-team event. She had won one of the two selection tournaments organised by the Badminton Association of India for the Asian Games.
In Dubai, Chaliha came through the qualifiers on her way to the title. She did, however, receive a walkover in the semi-finals after top seed Beatriz Corrales of Spain withdrew with injury. Chaliha won all her matches, including the final against the world No 77, in straight games.
In the final, Chaliha got off to a good start and took an early lead of 7-2 in the first game, before the Korean fought back to level it at 9-9. Chaliha again managed to open up a slender lead of 16-13 but Jui again pulled her back. The scores were tied 19-19 in the first game before the Indian managed to win two consecutive points to take the lead in the match.
The second game was again tight till 13-13, before Chaliha managed to pull away and win it 21-15 to seal the gold. The 19-year-old will now play in the Tata Open India International Challenge later this month in Mumbai.
There could have been three Indian gold medallists in Dubai, but Subhankar Dey lost his men’s singles final against top seed Vladimir Malkov of Russia 10-21, 15-21, while Kona Tarun and his Malaysian doubles partner Kim Wah Lim also ended up on the losing side in their final against Korea’s Kim Sang Soo and Yoo Yeon Seong.
Dey had unexpectedly won the SaarLorLux Open in Germany earlier this month.