Senior National-ranking: Kanika survives Niranjana scare

In the men’s pre-quarterfinals, Haryana’s Aman Kumar jolted second-seeded Bodhit Joshi in a three-setter.

Niranjana Anil plays a shot during the senior National-ranking tournament.   -  S.RAMESH KURUP

For a few minutes at the V.K.K. Menon Stadium here, Niranjana Anil thought she could pull off one of the biggest upsets.

The 15th seed from Kochi was leading 13-9 against Railways' top-seeded Kanika Kanwal in the women’s singles pre-quarterfinal of the Yonex-Sunrise Mathrubhumi senior National-ranking tournament on Friday.

Shortly after that, things began to change dramatically as Kanika collapsed on the floor battling cramps.

But in the end, the top seed fought her way back to win 21-13, 24-26, 21-18 and entered the quarterfinal.

“It’s very humid here, I got cramps. I had played a three-set mixed doubles just before this and now another three-setter,” said Kanika who hails from Almora in Uttarakhand.

“But then, I kept telling myself, ‘just two points, just two points’. And then I came to 20. When I was tired, I was just thinking I should play it safe, not give points from my side. And she was also playing pretty good too but in the end my patience paid. I think my experience helped.”

Niranjana, hailed as a fine talent by former Gopichand’s coach Thomas John a couple of years ago, said the pressure got on to her.

“I thought I had the match in my hand but I got tense. And when she took that long break, I lost my focus, my mind moved to other things. Then I committed some silly errors and when I put one wide and out, I was very upset. I couldn’t concentrate.”

Meanwhile, international Aparna Balan who is back with her old partner Prajakta Sawant and who have been given the top billing here, defeated Megha Bora Morchana and Anamika Kashyap 21-8, 21-10 and progressed to the women’s doubles quarterfinal.

In the men’s pre-quarterfinals, Haryana’s Aman Kumar jolted second-seeded Bodhit Joshi in a three-setter while Telangana’s C. Rahul Yadav packed off Kerala’s champion Munawer Mohammed in straight games.

Select results (pre-quarterfinals):

Men: Ansal Yadav (UP) bt Siddharth Pratap (Cg) 21-18, 20-22, 21-10; Kiran George (Ker) bt Abhyansh Singh (UP) 21-17, 21-18; C. Rahul Yadav (TS) bt Munawer Mohammed (Ker) 21-14, 21-9; M. Mithun (AI) bt D. Jaswanth (AP) 21-23, 21-13, 21-9; Siril Varma (Tel) bt Kartikey Gulshan (Del) 21-13, 21-15; Aryamann Tandon (AI) bt Arintap Dasgupta (WB) 22-20, 21-15; Dhruv Rawat (Utr) bt Rohit Yadav (Cag) 21-19, 21-13; Aman Kumar (Har) bt Bodhit Joshi (Utr) 21-16, 12-21, 21-14.

Women: Kanika Kanwal (Rly) bt Niranjana Anil (Ker) 21-13, 24-26, 21-18; Namita Pathania (Del) bt Nishita Varma Pakalapati (AP) 21-16, 21-12; Purva Barve (AI) bt Mugdha Agrey (Mah) 15-21, 21-16, 21-17; Ira Sharma (Har) bt  Keyura Mopati (Tel) 19-21, 21-14, 21-10; Bhavya Rishi (Del) bt Ritika Thaker (Mah) 21-6, 21-17; Vaidehi Choudhari (Mah) bt Treesa Jolly (Ker) 21-8, 21-13; Malvika Bansod (AAI) bt Neha Pandit (Mah) 21-18, 21-18; P.C. Thulasi (Pet) bt Riya Mookerjee (Rly) 21-7, 22-20.

Mixed doubles: Sri Krishna Sai (Tel) & Kanika Kanwal (Rly) bt Gouse Shaik (AP) & K. Maneesha (RBI, top seeds) 21-17, 22-24, 21-17.