The Badminton Association of India’s decision to not consider international ranking points in the national circuit had provided the second rung shuttlers with a somewhat favourable draw. But as the 74th senior National Championship reached the business end, it was the usual suspects who staked claim to the crown.
The loss of top seed Ajay Jayaram and second seed RMV Guru Saidutt may go down as an upset under the current seeding list, but there was hardly any doubt as to the favourites in the matches against former champions Chetan Anand and Anup Sridhar.
To their credit, both Jayaram and Saidutt tried their best to challenge the hegemony of their senior opponents, but lack of experience showed at crucial junctures.
Anup rallied to defeat Jayaram 16-21, 21-12, 21-14 in the quarterfinals, while Chetan got the better of Saidutt 14-21, 21-12, 21-16 in the last-16 stages before thrashing Rohan Castelino of Karnataka 21-16, 21-16 to reach the semifinals.
He will now take on defending champion Aravind Bhat, who outplayed Railway’s Sachin Ratti 21-8, 21-11.
The other semifinals would be a repeat of last year’s showdown between Anup and P. Kashyap, who saw off a spirited challenge from Maharashtra’s Sagar Chopda 11-21, 21-11, 21-12.
With Saidutt out of the quarterfinal line-up, all eyes were on Jayaram and the Mumbai boy began with a bang using the jump smash and attacking drops to unnerve his experienced opponent.
The Indian Oil employee was in control all through the opening game but the change of ends saw Anup adapting a more aggressive game plan and attacking Jayaram’s flat tosses with half smashes and sharp drops.