Aditi Mutatkar exhibited mental toughness to storm into the quarter-final of women's singles while Parupalli Kashyap bowed out after a close fight, leaving the men's draw stark bare of Indian challenge in the Badminton Asia Championships in New Delhi on Thursday.
Mutatkar, who is coming back from a knee injury, made her maiden quarter-final of the continental championship with an impressive 23-21, 21-11 victory over Hsiao Huan Chen of Chinese Taipei.
Kashyap, who was playing at the same time at the far court, was not so fortunate as he went down to seventh seed Yun Hu of Hong Kong 16-21, 21-18, 13-21 in an hour-long marathon.
Mutatkar, who battled past Singapore's Fu Mingtian in a close duel Wednesday, followed it up with another good performance.
She showed steely resolve to save four game points in the fiercely contested first game. In fact, Mutatkar was doing the catch up in the first game, but she kept her patience and never panicked.
With her deft touches, Mutatkar kept the shuttle in play and waited for the right time to score points. The Pune girl has been hampered by injuries in her career but she has not lost her touch.
The second game was fought neck-and-neck at the start and both players were locked 6-6 and then 9-9, but Mutatkar slowly opened up a 15-11 lead and made no mistake in closing out the match.
"The first game was pretty close and I was finding it difficult to read her drop shots. But then I played some good strokes towards the end and that boosted my confidence. I kept telling myself that I can fight."
"I played more rallies and that wore her out after 10 points in the second game. I made the most of it. It is my first quarterfinal appearance in Asian Championships and it has come after two month injury lay-off. I am mentally stronger now," she said.
Mutatkar, 22, will now face Chinese qualifier Xin Liu, who upset eighth seed Japanese Sayaka Sato 19-21, 21-7, 21-11.
Kashyap, who was India's lone challenge left in the men's draw after six players bowed out on the opening day of main draw, looked in a better position to make it to his second consecutive quarterfinal of the tournament, but faltered at the final hurdle.
The Hyderebad boy, world No.30, covered up initial deficits in the first two games, but lacked the penetration in the third when his smashes found the net.
Down 2-6 in the first game, Kashyap showed his array of strokes to keep himself in the match. He defended well and struck some powerful smashes to hold Hu at 10-10. But some errors in line call judgement saw Hu take the lead at 17-15 before closing out the game.
Kashyap made a comeback in the second game as well. From 0-4 down, Kashyap pocketed 11 points while conceding just one to go up 11-5. Hu was brilliant with his touch play but also made mistakes at the net.
The two players were tied 10-10 in the second game, but a line call judgement that was overruled by the chair umpire in favour of Hu unnerved Kashyap. The Indian lost focus from there on and Hu sailed into the quarters.
Coach Pullela Gopichand, who opposed the umpire overruling the line call as it came after Hu's protest, said it affected Kashyap mentally.
Kashyap, on his part, said that he made some errors in the third game.
"I was making him to play at the corners of the court and it did help me to score points. I made mistakes in the third game and paid for it."
In other matches, Aparna Balan and Shruti Kurian beat Singapore's Xing Aiying and Beiwen Zhang 21-14, 21-9 in the first round. They will meet Pan Pan and Qing Tian, sixth seed, of China next
Jwala Gutta and Aswhini Ponappa lost to Indonesian Leiliana Jauhari and Greysia Polii 18-21, 21-5, 21-17.
In men's doubles, third seed Rupesh Kumar and Sanave Thomas also reached the second round with a 21-10, 21-2 win over Rais Mohammed Uddin and Jabed Mostafa Md of Bangladesh.
Tarun Kona and Jishnu Sanyal lost to Nguyen Khang Huynh and Hoang nam Nguyen of Vietnam 18-21, 21-12, 16-21.
Akshay Diwalkar and Arun Vishnu also went down to second seed Japanese Hirokatsu and Noriyasu Hirata 18-21, 15-21.