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Issue:January' 2018


Hopes belied


Pullela Gopichand It was with high hopes that coach Gopichand took his band of Indian players to Birmingham to take part in last month’s US$ 1 million All England tournament, an event only two Indians have won . All England has a place of its own in the world of badminton. Only two Indians have won this oldest of badminton tournaments, created in 1899. Prakash Padukone was the first to win it in 1980, the year when he was named the world’s No. 1. It took a long 21 years for Pullela Gopichand to become the second Indian to win the competition.
That was in 2001. The game has taken great strides in the country after that, with Indian players winning medals in international tournaments, including the Olympic Games and world championships, and a number of them figuring well up in world rankings. The great Prakash is on record hailing the era as the ‘golden age’ of Indian badminton.

For all that, the one prize that India was now waiting for was the All England at Arena Birmingham in March.

Disappointingly, no Indian could go beyond the quarterfinal stage, with PV Sindhu, seeded fifth, falling to 10th seeded Korean 16-21, 22-20, 18-21 in the first round of the women’s singles. “It was not my day,” said Sindhu after the close fight. Saina Nehwal, 28, admired for her mental toughness, went down to Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu-ying in their quarter-final match, 15-21, 19-21. The Indian challenge ended with Kidambi Srikanth losing his quarter-final match to Japan’s Kento Momota.21-17,11-21, 21-12.

Saina has returned home to get treated for gastroenteritis which resulted .in her withdrawal from the Switzerland Open tournament.

For the record, the 24-year-old Momota became the first Japanese man to win the 109-year-old All England. Defeating Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen 21-11, 15-21, 21-15 in the final, the elated Japanese 24-year-old said .it was a victory which made him “super happy.”

After the failure of our players to rise up to expectations at the All England, Sai Praneeth, ranked 22 in the world, by way of compensation, reached the final of the Switzerland Open at Basel where he lost to the top-seeded Shi Yuqi of China, 21-19, 18-21, 12-21. In the Praneeth had stunned the reigning Olympic champion Chen Long, also of China, in straight games, 21-18, 21-13.

Creating sensation

Prajnesh Gunneswaran Playing in his first ATP Masters 1000 tournament as a qualifier, Prajnesh Gunneswaran created a sensation when he defeated Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia in the second round of the Indian Wells, California, USA, last month, It was the 29-year-old Gunneswaran’s first victory over a world top 20 player. This less than a month after he made news by being included among the world’s top 100. The victory over Basilashvili has raised the Indian’s world standing from 97 to 84 at a venue appropriately called Indian Wells...
But Gunneswaran’s progress was halted by Croatia’s Ivo Karlovic in the third round. Known for his fast serves, the 40- year-old age-defying Croat professional, who stands 211cm (6ft 11in) in his socks, beat Gunneswaran 6-3, 7-6. Gunneswaran returned home from the Indian Wells tournament, considered as the fifth grand slam of tennis, with a prize purse of US$48,755

Winning the fortnight-long tournament was Austria’s Dominic Thiem, 25, who defeated Roger Federer of Switzerland in the final, 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, to deny the 37-year-old Swiss super star, one of the game’s greatest players of all time, a record sixth title victory at Indian Wells. He had concluded his 100th title earlier at Dubai.

Bianca Andreescu, an 18-year-old Canadian girl born of Romanian parents, a wild card whose entry was recommended by the sponsors who were impressed by her talent, won the women’s singles title, defeating her far more experienced German opponent Angelique Kerber, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4. Andreescue’s winner’s cheque of US$1,354,010 made the teen-ager an instant millionaire.

Camouflage caps a strong statement

MS Dhoni Distributes Camouflage Caps To His Teammates As India Pay Homage To Pulwama Martyrs If it were the camouflage caps which made news the other day at Ranchi, there’s no stopping people from sporting an Abhinandan Varthaman-style mustache currently the rage among the country’s youth. What better stage than the upcoming World Cup to sport such a mustache! The disappointment of the defeat of the Indian team in the One Day International series against the visiting Australians has been forgotten as the wise men of cricket are searching for the right man to bat at No. 4..
It was Ranchi’s own son Mahendra Singh Dhoni, an honorary colonel in the Territorial Army, who made it a memorable day by distributing the camouflaged caps to the lined up Indian cricketers to pay respect to the CRPF soldiers who lost their lives in the Pulwama terror attack . The cricketers also donated generously to the families of the slain soldiers.

While a black armband may have sufficed, sporting the camouflage military caps seemed to have the approval of the government authorities, the Indian cricket board and of course the International Cricket Conference.

That Pakistan has protested the gesture was perhaps expected but is also puzzling, since it has declared that it does not support acts of terrorism.