BM Rahul Bharadwaj bagged his third title in only his fourth international tournament of 2019 when he rallied from a game behind to beat Germany’s Max Weisskirchen 12-20, 22-20, 21-14 to clinch the Croatian International title in Zagreb.
The match lasted an hour and four minutes — comfortably the longest encounter on finals day.
Later, Tanvi Lad went down 21-18, 21-13 against third seed Laura Sarosi of Hungary in the women’s singles final.
Rahul, the 19-year-old Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy trainee, struggled to counter the game plan of the tall German in the opening game as he could not push his opponent to the back court enough to gain advantage.
But the change of ends provided Rahul an opportunity to alter his game plans and though he needed bandaging on his fingers a couple of times, he managed to race to an 11-3 lead.
However, Weisskirchen wasn’t giving up easily and he once again managed to control the forecourt well to slowly but surely reduce the deficit and level the scores at 17-17. And it looked like the German could clinch the match when he finally took the lead for the first time in the game at 19-18.
Rahul kept his nerves under pressure to earn two straight points and his first game point. Though he could not convert the first, he ensured that there were no further hiccups in taking the match to the decider.
The Indian, who had won the Uganda and Kenya international earlier this year, once again struggled to get going and was trailing 5-8 before he managed to change his tactics and take six consecutive points to take the lead at the change of ends.
He was in complete control thereafter and clinched the title with four straight points from 17-14.
Lad, later could not make it a memorable double for India. The 26-year-old, who had not dropped a single game in the run-up to the final, began well by taking a 6-3 lead in the opening game but could not keep the momentum going as she lost the next six points to hand the initiative to her opponent.
Sarosi then ensured that the Indian never really got back the lead in the opening game.
Lad was chasing the match through out the second game once Sarosi opened up a 4-0 lead after the restart and then struggled to push her opponent enough to force a turn around. The match ended in 37 minutes.