Ruthick Ragupathi turned the tables on Meril Loquette of France at the Thailand Para Badminton International 2023, winning his SU5 men’s singles group match 27-25 21-18 to book his quarterfinal place.
It was the Indian’s first win in four singles meetings with Loquette.
“I just got tired of losing so I watched videos of him against others,” said Ragupathi.
“I analysed his game and how his opponents beat him. He plays good rallies patiently so I pushed him to play faster to break his rhythm and it worked.”
Ragupathi, who trains with able-bodied players, added: “I prefer doubles because I can share the court and workload.”
He takes on Japan’s Taiyo Imai tomorrow, then partners countryman Hardik Makkar against China’s Mingpan Li/Shi Shengzhuo in the men’s doubles semifinals.
Japan’s Matsumoto Takumi advanced to the WH2 men’s singles quarterfinals by taking out Mai Jianpeng of China, 14-21 21-12 21-11. He then fell 24-22 21-8 to Korea’s Sooyoung Yu the same evening.
Before his match against Yu, Matsumoto partnered Keita Nishimura in WH1-WH2 men’s doubles to defeat Marc Elmer (Switzerland) and Yuri Ferrigno (Italy) 21-12 21-8.
“I was tired. I’ve never beaten Yu, perhaps the pressure and the fatigue got the better of me,” he conceded.
“Daiki (Kajiwara) will remain the top WH2 player for a while, so for now I’ll work on making No.2 and qualifying for the next Paralympics.”
Ilaria Renggli of Switzerland suffered the same fate, winning 21-19 21-17 against Thailand’s Amnouy Wetwithan to make the WH2 women’s singles quarterfinals, only to succumb to Peru’s Pilar Jaurequi Cancino 16-21 21-18 13-21.
“It was a difficult group with Emine (Seckin) and Li Hongyan. Defeating Amnouy for the first time felt good. Facing Pilar, I didn’t give in easily but it was just too hard,” admitted Renggli, who is still in the WH1-WH2 mixed doubles semifinals with Isreali Konstantin Afinogenov.
“Firstly, it’s a different feeling not playing women’s doubles because Cynthia (Mathez) isn’t here. Another new feeling is playing mixed doubles with Konstantin. Without time to really practice, sometimes it’s difficult deciding who takes which shot, especially down the middle,” said Renggli.
India’s Palak Kohli, re-classified from SU5 to SL4, has found a new partner in Naveen Sivakumar.
In SL3-SU5 mixed doubles, Kohli and Sivakumar defeated Japan’s Daisuke Fujihara/Akiko Sugino 21-15 21-15 to set up a quarterfinal against teammates Raj Kumar/Parul Dalsukhbhai Parmar.
“This is our first tournament together so we played a safe game, didn’t make mistakes but we kept up the pace,” said Sivakumar.
Kohli added: “We never had the chance to train together. We don’t even have the same T-shirts.”