Pune: India’s Rahul Bharadwaj defeated compatriot George Kiran 21-16, 20-22, 24-22 in a thrilling contest to set up a summit clash with top seeded Kunlavut Vitidsarn of Thailand’s, who defeated India’s Kartikey Gulshan Kumar at the Yonex Sunrise India Junior Grand Prix here at the PDMBA Courts on Saturday.
Bharadwaj, who earlier stunned second seed Ruttanapak Oupthong of Thailand, started on a positive note against Geroge as both the shuttlers kept having a go at each other until Bharadwaj took the one point lead going into the breather.
But after that, he raced ahead as he increased his lead 18-12 before George rallied back to make scoreboard 18-16 before Bharadwaj calmly pocketed the first game.
In the second game as well, the 17-year old lad carried the momentum to take the 11-7 lead before George changed things around. He first equalised to make it 15-15 and took the lead.
George was leading 20-17 to equalise the tie, but Bharadwaj bounced back in the game. He saved three game points as the players exchanged thrilling rallies, cheered by the crowd. Despite losing three consecutive points, George maintained his focus and saw out the game 22-20 and took the match into the decider.
The final game was a no different story as Bharadwaj went into breather leading by three points. But just like in the second game, George took things to equal footings as the score was locked at 16-16. With the momentum on his side, George even had a match point at 2-19, but some judgement of errors calls on his part saw him staring at the defeat.
He kept the parity till 22-22 but 17-year old Bharadwaj finished off the match 24-22 in 64 minutes to set up a final with Thai top seed Vitidsarn on Sunday.
Kartikey’s brave fight
Kunlavut Vitidsarn might be the top seeded player at the tournament, but he must have had his heart in his mouth against eighth seed Indian Kartikey Gulshan Kumar, as he earned a hard fought 21-16, 19-21, 21-61.
In the opening game, Vitidsarn got off to blocks quickly and raced to the 11-3 lead. He gave Indian shuttler no chance whatsoever as he closed off the opening game 21-16. In the second game, Kartikey upped his game but still found himself two points down heading into the breather. After the break, he swung the momentum in his favour as he took lead in the match for the first time to make it 15-14.
Vitidsarn then showcased why he is a top seeded player in the tournament, as he saved three game points to make it 19-20 before Indian clinched the game. In the decider, the Thai player kept the scoreboard ticking in his favour and sealed the final berth with 21-16.