Hyderabad Hunters rode a nervy but skillful display from Olympic champion Carolina Marin to enter the semi-finals of the Premier Badminton League here on Thursday. Hyderabad had breezed to a 2-0 lead after winning the first two matches before an inspiring game from Danish player Jan O Jorgensen in the men’s tie, against Rajiv Ouseph, brought Delhi back to the tie.
Marin however, quite fittingly, dashed Delhi’s hopes by beating Nitchaon Jindapol 15-14, 11-4. It was not an easy win though. Marin had raced to a comfortable 6-1 lead but too many errors saw the Thai draw level at 8-8 before nosing ahead with a point’s lead. From there started a game of nerves as they tried to outdo each other till Jindapol almost looked good to win the battle with a 34-shot rally that gave her the lead at 13-12.
Marin however quickly recovered from the slump to make it 14-14 before winning the deciding point thanks to close challenge. Clearly more cautious after an edgy first game, Marin mixed up her game with more drop and clear shots that stretched Jindapol quickly. That allowed the Spaniard to break ahead to first take a two-point lead before quickly shutting out Jindapol 11-4 in the second set and sealing it for Hyderabad. Delhi ultimately lost the tie 2-5 after losing the inconsequential men’s doubles match.
Before that, Siril Verma, in only his first outing of the PBL, came back from 3-6 to win the first game 11-8 against Sameer Verma. In the next game though, Siril was no match for Sameer’s aggression as the latter surged to a 6-1 lead to comprehensively win 11-3. Visibly inflated, Siril almost surrendered the decider 3-11 to hand Hyderabad the early lead. Any hopes of a Delhi comeback in the following mixed doubles game too evaporated quickly as Hyderabad’s Satwiksairaj Rankireddy smashed his way through the defence of Jwala Gutta and Vladimir Ivanov.