In a dramatic turn of events, Indian shuttler P Kashyap on Friday edged past Ajay Jayaram to qualify for the London Olympics after Chen Jin of China gave him a walkover in the quarter-finals of the India Open Super Series because of a wrist injury.
Commonwealth Games bronze medallist P Kashyap came into the tournament over 1000 points behind compatriot Jayaram and needed to win at least two rounds more than Jayaram to leapfrog him for the lone Olympic berth.
Jayaram had on Thursday lost his second round to Lee Chong Wei.
The world number 30 Kashyap had defeated Boonsak Ponsana on Thursday to set up a clash with world number four Chen.
Kashyap said he was happy with the walkover and was looking forward to the Olympics.
"I came prepared for the match but I am happy with the walkover. I came to know about it after the first game of the Jwala-Ashwini match. After the Commonwealth Games, I wanted to play at the Olympics. It was always a dream and I am happy," he told reporters.
Chen, who won the Asian Badminton Championship last week, himself was trying to edge past Peter Gade and break into the top four in world ranking to get a chance to compete in the Olympics.
Interestingly, last year's runner-up Peter Gade lost in the quarterfinal on Friday, paving the way for Chen to qualify for the Olympics.
Among other Indians, rising shuttler P V Sindhu showed indomitable spirit before going down fighting 18-21, 21-12, 21-18 to world number seven Yanjiao Jiang of China in the women's singles quarterfinal.
Sindhu showed tremendous grit and maturity beyond her age as she made the fourth seed Chinese work for each point.
Nimble-footed Sindhu turned the heat on the Chinese early in the match and pushed her to commit errors as Jiang kept hitting the shuttle wide to allow the Indian to lead 11-7 in the first game.
Lagging 13-17, Jiang however clawed her way back with a couple of smashes and made it 17-17. Sindhu soon regrouped herself and reeled off three points to get to game point. The Chinese saved one game point before Sindhu sealed it comfortably.
Stunned by the first game loss, Jiang rushed away to a 11-7 lead at the break. With Sindhu struggling with her strokes and committing unforced errors, Jiang pocketed the second game comfortably to bounce back in the match.
In the decider, Sindhu committed too many unforced errors to allow the Chinese to open up a 1-7 lead. The 16-year-old Sindhu tried to mix her strokes and involved her rival in long rallies to narrow the gap to 14-16.
However, the more experienced Jiang held her fort and moved to 20-16. Sindhu saved a couple of match points but it was the Chinese who had the last laugh.
Meanwhile, Commonwealth Games gold medallists Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa also fought hard before going down to the third seeded Japanese pair of Miyuki Maeda and Satoko Suetsuna 21-19, 13-21, 14-21.
The men's doubles pair of Rupesh Kumar and Sanave Thomas also lost in the quarterfinals to the Thai pair of Bodin Issara and Maneepong Jongjit 12-21, 12-21.
"In December I was ahead of him (Jayaram) and I never thought it would get so close. He has been ahead of me for the last four months. I got injured during the Syed Modi tournament last December and missed few tournaments and when I came back I played too many tournaments," Kashyap said.
Kashyap said his pre-quarterfinal match against higher-ranked Boonsak Ponsana was crucial.
"I think the match against Boonsak was crucial. I wouldn't have been here if I would not have won that match."
The world number 30 Indian said for now he was looking forward to Saturday's match.
"When I saw Gopi Sir play in the India Open in Delhi long time ago, I wanted to play in the finals of India Open and I am looking forward to tomorrow's match. It is a dream to play in the final. I have played my semi-final rival in France. I had lost in three close games," said Kashyap, who will take on World number 17 Wan Ho Shon of Korea.
In other results, Wan Ho Shon stunned second seed Peter Gade of Denmark 24-22, 21-18, while top seed Chong Wei Lee defeated former world and Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat 21-16, 21-13 to reach the semi-finals of the men's singles.
Sixth seed Juliane Schenk of Germany also produced a scintillating performance and ousted top seed Shixian Wang of China 6-21, 21-10, 21-16, while Chinese qualifier Xiao Jia Chen beat Youn Joo Bae 21-17, 21-13 and Asian badminton Champion Li Xuerui of China defeated Singapore's Juan Gu 21-15, 21-11 to enter the semis.