Pune 7 Aces rode on the brilliance of Rituparna Das and Loh Kean Yew to score an emphatic 4-1 win over Awadhe Warriors to virtually assure itself of a place in the last four stage of the Premier Badminton League (PBL) at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium in Hyderabad on Monday.
In the first match of the evening, former world champions Ko Sung Hyun and Shin Baek Cheol of Awadhe raised the bar in the decider, to hand over Chirag Shetty and Hendra Setiawan their first loss of this season.
The Pune duo won the first game easily thanks to Setiawan, a former Olympic and World champion, ably complemented by Shetty's subtle stroke-play.
In the second game, it was the turn of Hyun and Shin to find their rythmn with some really aggressive strokeplay at the net.
In the decider, it was anybody’s game before Chirag faltered with his net game – committing three unforced errors in crunch time. That saw the Awadhe pairing come back strongly to clinch the tie.
Awadhe, later, suffered a huge blow as World No. 14 Beiwen Zhang, playing the Trump match, suffered a shock defeat taking on World No. 100 Rituparna Das, for the first time in her career.
It was a splendid display by Rituparna, who returned most of the big smashes. her vastly superior net-game was adecisive factor, as well. She also came up with some impressive forehand down-the-line smashes to unsettle the former India Open champion.
“I am really happy with this win, which was my first against her. I played it safe, and ensured that I don’t make too many mistakes. And, the team supported me really well. Well, this is a very special win for me,” said a visibly delighted Rituparna later.
Later, former World championship silver medallists Chris Adcock and Gabrielle Adcock scored a fluent win over Ivan Sozonov to give Pune a 2-0 lead.
With Loh Kean Yew winning the Trump match for Pune against Subhankar Dey, the contest was all but over with Pune taking an unassailable 4-0 lead before the last match.
Ajay Jayaram won against Kazumasa Sakai to score the consolation point for Awadhe.
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