Diju-Jwala joined by Saina in quarters

Diju-Jwala joined by Saina in quarters

Chetan fails to negotiate pre-quarters hurdle

In Sync: V Diju look on as Jwala Gutta moves in for the kill during their third-round victory over Poland’s Robert Mateusiak and Nadiezda Kostiuczyk at the World Championship in Hyderabad on Thursday. DH photo/Kishor Kumar Bolar

India’s hope in men’s singles, Che-tan Anand, failed match his performance in the previous two matches, but the mixed doubles pair of V Diju and Jwala Gutta eked out a 21-11, 22-20 win that had the largest gathering yet at the Gachibowli stadium in thrall for just over 3o minutes.

Late in the evening, sixth-seeded Saina Nehwal bounced back from dropping the first game to oust tenth-seed Petya Nedelcheva of Bulgaria 18-21, 21-18, 21-10 to also make it to the quarterfinals.

Just after watching his wife, Jwala, become the first Indian woman to progress to the quarterfinals of the Championship, Chetan did well only patches to come up short against world number six Sony Dwi Kuncoro, the Indonesian registering a 21-16, 21-16 win to advance to the last eight stage.

Diju and Jwala, who got a bye in the first round, had moved straight into the pre-quarters after England withdrew from the event. Fortune may have favoured the Indian duo in the previous rounds, but on the day, it made its own luck, sending Poland’s world number 12 pair of Robert Mateusiak and Nadiezda Kostiuczyk packing in straight games. The left-handed Jwala complemented Viju just fine to have their rivals reeling.

“We were beaten by the same pair in the Sudirman Cup four years ago. But now, things are different,” said Jwala after the match. Indeed, things have changed drastically, more so in the last year or so with the Indians rising to number 10 in the world rankings whereas their opponents are ranked number 12.

While Jwala controlled the game at the net, Diju was at his aggressive best from the back of the court, executing brutal smashes and clever half-smashes. Having relaxed for the last two days, the two said they didn’t feel jittery coming into the match. “We may not have played a match here, but there was no let-up in our practice,” pointed out Diju.

In the second game, there wasn’t the same aggressive approach from the Indians and as a result, the Poles were able to keep themselves in with a chance to take the match into the decider. The laxity on the Indians’ part encouraged their rivals to go on the offensive and the strategy yielded good results. 

“We were a bit lazy in the second game,” admitted Jwala, who constantly kept  goading her partner. “I was not able to defend properly in the second game and neither did we show any urgency to finish off the game. But we kept our cool throughout and upped the intensity just in time to win the match,” explained Diju.

Jwala and Diju will now be up against defending World champions Nova Widianto and Liliyana Natsir of Indonsia for a place in the semifinals.

Chetan wasn’t his self on this day. He was unable to bring the same attitude and aggression to the court. Credit should also go to his Kuncoro, who didn’t allow the local favourite to play to his strengths. Excellent retriever that the Indonesian is, he quelled Chetan’s designs to draw him to the net, which somewhat frustrated the top-ranked Indian.

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