Ivanov, standing tall

If one player gave it all for his franchisee in this year’s Premier Badminton League, it was the lanky Russian Vladimir Ivanov. Ranked No. 11 in men’s doubles (with compatriot Ivan Sozonov), Ivanov paid back Mumbai for the $42,000 spent on him at the auction.

Mumbai Rockets' Vladimir Ivanov and Kamilla Juhi.   -  Sandeep Saxena

If one player gave it all for his franchisee in this year’s Premier Badminton League, it was the lanky Russian Vladimir Ivanov. Ranked No. 11 in men’s doubles (with compatriot Ivan Sozonov), Ivanov paid back Mumbai for the $42,000 spent on him at the auction.

This tireless campaigner figured in 14 matches — seven each in men’s doubles and mixed doubles — and won four times in each category.

Playing 36 games spread over these matches, the 28-year-old proved how important it was for him to be part of this cash-rich league.

Partnering Denmark’s doubles specialist Mathias Boe, Ivanov produced some exciting victories in men’s doubles and with Kamilla Juhl in mixed doubles.

If Mumbai managed to reach the final, it owed a great deal to Ivanov who figured in two matches in every encounter. Truly a team man, the Russian spent more time on court than any other player in the league.

Given the pace of doubles play in badminton, it was incredible that Ivanov could keep up the momentum match after match. More often than not, he lived up to the expectations Mumbai had from him. Whether it was his presence from the back of the court or the lunging interceptions at the net, Ivanov used his 2.01-metre frame to good effect and truly stood tall.