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Hyderabad, February 3, 2020
Rituparna Das stunned World No. 14 Beiwen Zhang as the Pune 7 Aces trounced Awadhe Warriors 4-1 to reach the semi-finals of the Star Sports Premier Badminton League at the GMC Balayogi Indoor Stadium here today.
Showing admirable composure, the former Indian national champion surged to a gritty 15-13, 15-12 win over the much-fancied American from the Warriors.
In her first ever meeting with the former India Open champion, the 23-year-old refused to be intimidated by her higher-accomplished opponent as she put in a performance to remember against the Awadhe Trump. Continuing from where she left off against World No. 10 Michelle Li, against whom she was able to take a game, Das came well-prepared. Exhibiting her full repertoire of net flicks and by riding on her exquisite placement of the shuttle, the World No. 100 was able to put Zhang in a spot of bother.
Making the Awadhe ace run to every corner of the court, her strategy of tiring out the American worked brilliantly as she held her nerves to pull off the win in front of her roaring Pune 7 Aces team members.
“I just wanted to play it safe and ensure that I made no mistake. Coming into this match after a good performance against Michelle Li, my confidence was high. I am glad I was able to pull it off this time,” said Das after her big win.
Having suffered their first loss of the season in Pune’s last tie, Commonwealth Games gold medallists Chris and Gabrielle Adcock roared back to form with a strong 15-6, 15-9 win against Awadhe’s Christinna Pedersen and Ivan Sozonov.
2019 Thailand Masters champion Loh Kean Yew grabbed a 15-12, 15-14 Trump win over Subhankar Dey of the Awadhe Warriors to make it a night to remember for the Aces.
The Warriors were able to secure only two wins on the night. Pune’s Hendra Setiawan and Chirag Shetty lost for the first time this season in a gruelling three-game encounter with Awadhe’s World No. 24 pair of Ko Sung Hyun and Shin Baek Cheol. Shetty and Setiawan had been on a four-match winning streak so far which was snapped by a gutsy show by the Awadhe pair, who came back to win 6-15, 15-9, 15-12.
Ajay Jayaram also bounced back from a slow start to edge Pune’s Kazumasa Sakai 6-15, 15-10, 15-13 to finish the tie on a high for the Warriors despite the overall tie not going their way.