UAE Badminton Open: India's Mohammed Manawar claims bragging rights
DUBAI // A day before the cricketing superstars of India and Pakistan battle at Birmingham in the Champions Trophy, shuttlers from the two neighbouring countries served a perfect appetiser on Friday night with an engrossing duel in the men's final of India Club's UAE Open badminton championship.
Irfan Saeed, the Pakistan national champion, and the UAE-based 17-year-old Indian Mohammed Munawar had the fans in the packed auditorium on the edge of their seats through an engrossing finale, which Munawar eventually clinched 21-16, 12-21, 21-17.
"It was a tough game, but the level of badminton in Pakistan is not so high," said Munawar, an upcoming star who trains at the Afshin Academy in Dubai.
"Still, he fought really well."
Down 5-11 in the first game and urged on by a partisan Indian crowd, Munawer staged a superb rally, winning 11 points in succession. Showing magnificent court coverage, he put the Pakistani under pressure and eventually took the first game.
The 20-year-old Saeed took the second game to force the championship into the decider, where the scores were level at 12 before the Indian, who hopes to make a rise up the world rankings in the near future, pulled ahead.
"It was a good match, but I just lost my focus," Saeed said.
"I was leading in the first game and then again at the start of the third, but lost my temperament. But that happens on some days."
Jordan's Dima Ardah, participating in the India Club tournament for the first time, took the women's singles title with a 21-12, 21-19 win over India's Ira Sharma.
A 26-year-old architect, Ardah has left her job to pursue her love for badminton and she is glad to have achieved success in only her second tournament of the year.
"My opponent, she is young but she played really well," said Ardah, a six-time and reigning Jordan national champion.
"She made it really tough for me in the second game, but thank God I did it,"
"In the first game, I pushed her into making many mistakes, but in the second game, she forced me into committing many mistakes.
"Thankfully, I could control the important points and close the game."
Ranked No 321 in the world, Ardah is hoping to improve on her rankings as well in the coming months through regular participation in tournaments.
And she also hopes to be back at the India Club next year.
"I had heard about this tournament, so I decided to come here," she said. "It is a really good tournament. There are many players at a high level, especially the boys and mixed doubles.
"So it was a really good experience for me and hopefully I can come back next year. I am planning to play more tournaments, participate with the national team and also trying to go to tournaments on my own expense."
"I have left my job and now I am playing badminton full-time, so hopefully this win will lead to good results in the future."
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Published: June 14, 2013 04:00 AM