Senior Badminton C’ship: Nikhil enters semifinals

Olympian Nikhil Kanetkar showed flashes of his old form as he defeated Germany’s Henrik Westermeyer in the Manorama BWF World senior badminton championship at the Rajiv Gandhi indoor stadium.

Olympian Nikhil Kanetkar in action in the Manorama BWF World Senior Badminton Championships in Kochi.   -  Special Arrangement

Olympian Nikhil Kanetkar showed flashes of his old form as he defeated Germany’s Henrik Westermeyer 21-11, 19-21, 21-10 and entered the above-35 men’s semifinal of the Manorama BWF World senior badminton championship at the Rajiv Gandhi indoor stadium here on Friday evening.

The 38-year-old has now been assured of at least a bronze which a semifinal entry offers. The left-hander, now a prominent coach who runs his own academy in Pune, was comfortable in the opening set but he ran into problems towards the end of the second set before recovering nicely in the decider.

“I was getting tired but I thought of my dad who is very unwell. In fact, my dad is in hospital and I did not want to come but he insisted that I play these Worlds,” said Kanetkar after the match. “This is for my dad.”

Meanwhile former national champion Abhinn Shyam Gupta, who once terrorised opponents with his defensive play and long rallies, bowed out to Russia’s top-seeded Stanislav Pukhov 23-25, 21-19, 21-8 in the other above-35 quarterfinal.

Gupta, much heavier now, was slow this evening and as the match moved into the third set, life became difficult for the Indian. Pukhov, taller and light on his feet, just had to move Gupta back and forth and from side to side in the decider to race to victory.

Meanwhile, the host had something to celebrate too with former Kerala champion K.A. Aneesh and Joy T. Antony winning their above-40 men’s singles quarterfinals and getting into the medal round.

The unseeded Aneesh defeated England’s third-seeded Carl Jennings in straight sets while Antony, the second seed, beat Japan’s Takuya Yamamoto in similar fashion.

With this being the country’s first-ever Senior Worlds, India is set to get its biggest medal haul here.

The top-seeded Sanave Thomas and Rupesh Kumar along with V. Diju and J.B.S. Vidyadhar were among the above-35 men’s doubles winners. Former National champion George Thomas and his partner Bhushan Akut (in over-50), Deepak Amarnath and Ajit Wijetilak (over-40) also progressed to the doubles semifinals.