India's seasoned doubles pair of Rupesh Kumar and Sanave Thomas bagged their first title of the year when they defeated Japan's Hiroyuki Saeki and Ryota Taohata 23-21, 22-20 to lift the Austrian International Challenge in Vienna on Saturday.
The top-seeded duo defeated, who were dethroned as National Champions in January after eight years at the helm, used all their experience during the business end of both games to win the title round in 39 minutes.
This victory, though in a smaller-level tournament, assumes significance since it comes in the Olympic qualification year.
The Indian combination, who had a decent outing in the Thomas Cup Asia Qualifiers in Macau, is currently ranked 27th in the world but that could change next Thursday when
the updated rankings are released. According to the rules, only one team from each country can participate unless there are two pairs in top-8.
Rupesh and Sanave are scheduled to play five more tournaments before the May 1 deadline to pick the sixteen pairs for the Olympics and would need some special performances in the other major events to cement their seat on the flight to London.