Indian challenge in badminton comes to an end

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> The Indian challenge in badminton came to an end with the country's only remaining hope Nikhil Kanetkar going down in the second round.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:08 IST
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The Indian challenge in badminton came to an end with the country's only remaining hope Nikhil Kanetkar going down in the second round of the singles competition of the Olympic Games here today. Kanetkar went down to sixth seed Peter Gade of Denmark 10-15 6-15 to bring the curtains down on India's contest at the Goudi Olympic hall here. The 25-year-old Indian, who had defeated Sergio Llopis of Spain in the opening round, made a valiant attempt to make a match of it against the Dane but never really threatened the former world champion. Knowing that his opponent was an aggressive player, the Indian concentrated on long rallies to stop Gade from going for the kill. The strategy paid dividends in the opening half of the first game as Kanetkar was able to win back serves but as Gade started to get into a rhythm, he began to pull away from the Indian and took the first game 15-10. With just a game away from a berth in the quarterfinals, Gade stepped up the tempo going for cross court smashes and brilliant net play to race to a 14-5 lead. Kanetkar did manage to frustrate Gade as the serve changed hands on a couple of occasions but the Dane wrapped up the tie when the overhead toss of the Indian went long. But the Pune-born shuttler would be satisfied at having reached the second round of the competition, for which he qualified just a week before the event. Kanetkar, ranked 48th in the world, was fifth on the waitlist when the initial qualification list was declared on May 1 and made the cut only when the Canadian Association decided against sending two of its shuttlers. The other two Indians in the fray - national women's champion Aparna Popat and Abhinn Shyam Gupta - had bowed out on the second day of the competition. Popat, playing in her second Olympics, gave a scare to fourth seed and 1996 Atlanta Games silver medallist Mia Audina of the Netherlands in the second round but could not sustain the momentum to lose 11-9 1-11 3-11. The 27th ranked Indian had earlier defeated Michelle Edwards of South Korea 11-6 11-3 in the opening round. Gupta, however, failed to cross the first round hurdle in his maiden appearance in the quadrennial event and went down to Park Tae Sang of Korea 12-15 0-15 last night. (PTI)

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