Maharashtra’s Kaushal Dharmamer and teammate Neha Pandit registered hard-fought victories over higher-ranked opponents to reach the pre-quarterfinals of the senior national badminton championship in Guwahati on Wednesday.
Dharmamer, who had struggled through injuries for almost two years, showed that he was nearing peak fitness as he registered a come from behind win over 10th seed Mithun Manjunath 19-21, 21-16, 21-19 in an hour and six minutes while former India number one Pandit turned back the years to beat third seed Bhavya Rishi 21-18, 20-22, 21-16 in the fourth round.
The 23-year-old from Mumbai, who relies on his retrieving abilities, looked like losing the plot when he lost the opening game from a strong position. But Dharmamer began mixing things up in the second game and the change in tactics meant that Mithun needed to take the initiative to clinch points and that played in his opponent’s hands.
The decider was a close affair as Mithun kept pace with Dharmamer but just when he was threatening to race away with the lead, the Mumbai lad engaged his opponents in long rallies and forced errors. The Israel Open champion will now face Chirag Sen in the round of 16.
Earlier, Pandit had to dig deep in all her energy serves to beat a much younger opponent. The experienced campaigner started strong in the opening game and had two match points in the second but Bhavya clinched four straight points to force a decider.
In the third and final game, Pandit paced herself well to conserve enough energy in the business end of the game to race ahead from 14-14 to win the match in exactly an hour.
Elsewhere, Harsheel Dani was made to work hard by Kartikey Gulshan Kumar before registering a 16-21, 21-18, 21-8 win in 56 minutes. Sixth seed Aryamann Tandon beat Madhya Pradesh’s Priyanshu Rajawat 21-15, 21-10 while fifth seed Rahul Yadav from Telangana emerged a 21-12, 21-11 winner over Jaswanth D.
In the women’s section, former champion Rituparna Das needed only 24 minutes to breeze past Namita Pathania 21-10, 21-7 while Riya Mookerjee staved off some stiff resistance from the ninth-seeded Gayatri Gopichand to win 21-17, 21-17.
Eighth seed Shruti Mundada and unseeded Deepshikha Singh advanced when their respective opponents, Vrushali Gummadi and Deepali Gupta, retired.
Key Results: Women’s singles: 1-Riya Mookerjee def 9-Gayatri Gopichand 21-17, 21-17; 14-Malvika Bansod def 7-Shikha Gautam 21-11, 21-16; 5-Rituparna Das def Namita Pathania 21-10, 21-7
Men’s singles: 5-Rahul Yadav def Jaswanth D 21-12; 21-11; Harsheel Dani def Kartikey 16-21, 21-18, 21-8; 14-Lakshya Sen def Arintap Dasgupta 21-10, 21-10; 6-Aryamann Tandon def Priyanshu Rajawat 21-15, 21-10; Sourabh Verma def Munawer Mohammed 21-13; 21-14