India’s Mithun Manjunath made it to his maiden Super 100 final with a straight-games win over Indonesia’s Christian Adinata at the Orleans Masters.
The 23-year-old, a product of the Prakash Padukone Badminton academy, Manjunath prevailed 21-18, 21-14 over Adinata in a 47-minute showdown at the Palais des Sports late on Saturday night.
The world No. 79, who had reached the semi-finals of Syed Modi International Super 300 event and quarterfinals of Odisha Super 100 in January, will next face fourth seeded local hope Toma Junior Popov, who is ranked world No. 32, in the summit clash.
It was a tight battle with Manjunath and Adinata moving neck and neck initially before the Indian managed to go three-points up at the interval. However, the Indonesian came back to level the scores at 16-16.
Manjunath then stepped up his game and grabbed five points on the trot to earn the bragging rights.
The second game also started on an equal footing but Manjunath managed to lead 11-9 at the break and then kept his nose ahead to eventually seal the contest in 47 minutes.
BAI to conduct selection trials for CWG, other major events
In other results, women’s doubles pair of Ashwini Bhat K. and Shikha Gautam put up a gallant fight before going down 16-21, 21-18, 22-24 to Germany’s Stine Kuspert and Emma Moszczynski in the semifinals.
Manjunath has been impressive throughout the tournament as he stunned world No. 22 Hans-Kristian Solberg Vittinghus of Denmark in the quarterfinals to keep the Indian flag fluttering following the early exit of top seed B Sai Praneeth.
Manjunath claimed four All-India ranking titles, including the All India Senior Ranking Badminton tournament in December last year.
The shuttler from Bengaluru was rated highly during his junior days and he also had one or two odd performances in the circuit like reaching the quarters at 2018 Czech Open and back-to-back semi-finals finishes at Vietnam Open and Russian Open in 2018.
However, it was during the COVID-19 pandemic that he decided to work hard on his fitness, something which has helped him to stay longer in the rallies and outlast his opponents in the three-game contests.
He had reached the semi-finals of Infosys foundation India International in October last year.
However, COVID-19 disrupted his plans as he was one of the players who was withdrawn from the India Open Super 500 event ahead of his second round match against India’s H S Prannoy after testing positive for the virus.
He, however, reached the last four at Lucknow and the quarters in Odisha in January. He was also part of the Indian team which competed at the Badminton Asia Team Championships in Malaysia.