Pawar bags maiden international title | other | Hindustan Times
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Pawar bags maiden international title

Mumbai shuttler credits stint at Frost Academy for his confidence, reports Abhijeet Kulkarni.

other Updated: Feb 24, 2008 22:46 IST
Abhijeet Kulkarni

ANAND PAWAR was unable to hide his disappointment after being left out of the Indian squad for the Thomas Cup Asian qualifiers in January. The selectors' decision, however, turned out to be a blessing in disguise for the Mumbai shuttler, who claimed his maiden international title at the Austrian badminton championship on Sunday.

Had Pawar been selected in the Thomas Cup squad he would have been warming the bench in Vietnam the entire week as he would not have got a chance to play a tie in India's failed bid to book a berth in finals. Instead, he got an opportunity to prove himself on the international circuit and grabbed it with both hands.

The 21-year-old defeated seventh seed Vladislav Druzchenko of Ukraine 21-16, 21-15 in just 29 minutes to pocket the title. Pawar had thrashed Nathan Rice of England 21-14, 21-8 in the semifinals.

"The final was not a close affair. But the difficult part was to keep focus and not to think about the title before it was actually won," Pawar told Hindustan Times over phone.

"In fact, I played very well throughout the tournament and I guess it was my net play that made all the difference," said the shuttler who did not drop a game in five matches.

Pawar, who trains under his father and former doubles national champion Uday and at the Prakash Padukone's academy in Bangalore, had a six-week training stint at the Morten Frost Academy in Aarhus last year and that did a world of good to his confidence as he reached the semifinals of the Scottish Open immediately after.

"The stint definitely helped. I think I am now more comfortable playing in the circuit," said the Air India employee. "One takes time to adjust to various playing styles and environment. I am more at ease now and that's showing in the result."

Pawar now moves to Germany to participate in the German Open starting on Monday and has been promoted to the main draw in this Grand Prix Gold event to be played in Mulheim. He will then participate in the Croatian and Portugal international championship before returning home.

"I have set myself a target of breaking into top 50 this year and then maintaining it. I have made it to top 70 before but then slipped," he added.