At the start of the Tata Open badminton tournament, Anand Pawar had spoken about near misses and bad luck against top players. His loss to Sony Dwi Kuncoro in the Indonesian Super Series last month and to Chetan Anand in the National Championships at Patna two years ago only reinforced this point.
History repeated itself at the CCI courts on Sunday as the Portuguese Open champion went into a shell after winning the opening game and was then completely outplayed by the more adventurous Chetan 20-22, 21-11, 21-17 in 65 minutes.
The win earned Chetan a prize purse of Rs 75,000 and, more importantly, the much-needed confidence boost ahead of the World Championship in his hometown Hyderabad next month.
In the women's singles final, Air India's Sayali Gokhale re-asserted her position as the National champion with 21-19, 21-15 win over Neha Pandit.
But it was the men's singles that had spectators on their feet as the experienced Chetan took on the aggressive Pawar. The opening game was a topsy-turvy affair with both players opting to play a flatter trajectory and waiting for the other to make mistakes.
Pawar took off at 14-14, winning six straight points with a flurry of smashes and looked like running away with the game. But his nerves got the better of him and some uncharacteristic errors saw the world number 14 Chetan save all six game points before wasting all the effort with two errors of his own.
The second game had Chetan's class written all over as the 28-year-old used the cross-court drop to menacing effect and ran away with the game in just under 15 minutes.
World number 44 Pawar did not help his cause by trying to finish off the rallies early and most of his off-balance smashes ended up in the net. The decider was a much closer affair but Pawar rarely had an answer to Chetan's cross-court drops and smash-and-tap routine.
Pawar's fate was once again sealed with two unforced errors on tight net dribbles and the Mumbai boy will now have to wait for yet another chance to rewrite the story of near misses.
"Yes, it is frustrating. But I know I will get over it and come back stronger," was Pawar's promise after the match.
Sayali on a roll
Sayali was the overwhelming favourite and the National champion did not disappoint. The 22-year-ol looked out of sorts at the start but as she pulled along at 11-11 with a fine cross-court smash, it was apparent that she was getting back into her rhythm.
A few unforced errors notwithstanding, the Spanish Open champion managed to pocket the first game and was always in control in the second. "Winning that first game was crucial," she said after winning her second consecutive national level title.”