The Olympics berth has obviously done a world of good to Parupalli Kashyap's confidence. For, it has now become a habit with the youngster to net one big fish after another in his bag. On Thursday at the Djarun Indonesia Open, the Indian recorded the biggest victory of his career when he stunned world No.3 and top seed Chen Long of China 21-17, 21-14 in the pre-quarterfinals.
Not to be overshadowed, Saina Nehwal too won, but for the second consecutive day she stuttered in the middle before getting past Indonesian qualifier Aprilla Yuswandari 21-17, 14-21, 21-13 to reach the quarterfinals. National women's champion PV Sindhu, however, wasn't as lucky. The lanky Hyderabadi, who defeated Maria Febe Kusumastuti of Indonesia 13-21, 21-18, 21-19 late on Wednesday, lost to eighth seed Juliane Schenk of Germany 21-14, 21-14 in the second round on Thursday.
Ajay Jayaram, who fought tooth and nail for the lone men's singles Olympic berth with Kashyap, crashed to a 15-21, 14-21 loss against Dionysius Hayom Rumbaka of Indonesia.
Later in the day mixed doubles pair Valiyaveetil Diju and Jwala Gutta lost to Tao Jiaming and Xia Huan of China 13-21, 21-14, 18-21.
It was quite an astonishing feat by Kashyap as Long has been for long considered as the successor to Lin Dan's throne. This win will certainly boost the lad's confidence ahead of next month's quadrennial Games, and the 25-year-old was understandably excited.
"It feels great. I know it will help me believe that I can beat the best in the world. Long is a gold medal prospect for China and beating him in straight games is good," Kashyap said.
The Hyderabadi shuttler, who qualified for the Olympics at the eleventh hour after a bitter battle with Jayaram, described the victory as the biggest of his career. "Without doubt this is the best win of my career. In our last two meetings I committed too many unforced errors but today I attacked right from the start. He too tried hard but I got everything right today," said Kashyap, who will meet Hans-Kristian Vittinghus of Denmark in the quarterfinals on Friday.
Coach Pullela Gopichand said that Kashyap's sensational victory will provide him the right dose of medicine ahead of the Olympics. "We all know he is a very talented player. A couple of victories like this will boost his morale. He was very sharp today. The way he attacked and the manner he handled the shuttle at the net were too good," Gopi said.
Meanwhile, Saina sweated it out against Aprilla. The 58-minute battle against the world No.46 player may not be the right kind of preparation for the Indian ahead of a tough quarterfinal against Shixian Wang of China.
Saina began well by wrapping up the first game without much trouble. But she looked out of sorts in the second where she failed to extract even one point at the net. In the third game, however, Saina opened with a 6-1 lead and did well to dominate the inexperienced qualifier.