Malvika Bansod goes down fighting at SaarLorLux Open badminton

The 18-year-old Indian badminton player battled hard in the second game but was ultimately unable to prevent victory to a more experienced opponent.

By Rahul Venkat

India’s Malvika Bansod was knocked out in the first round of the women’s singles at the Super 100 SaarLorLux Open in Saarbrucken, Germany on Wednesday.

The 18-year-old Bansod lost 21-12, 21-19 to Estonia’s Kristin Kuuba, five years her senior, in a little over half-an-hour.

The impressive Indian teenager, one of the few left-handed badminton players in India, kept pace with Kuuba in the opening exchanges, winning the first point and looked set for a long game at 2-2.

However, Kuuba raised her game to open up a three-point lead at 5-2 and went into the break in the first game leading 11-4. The Estonian maintained a steady lead thereafter, and the closest Bansod came to challenging her was at 12-7.

But Kuuba did not let her advantage slip, winning two consecutive points at 19-12 to win the opening game.

The second game saw a refreshed Bansod taking to the court. Though the Indian trailed 4-0 at the start of the game, she shifted the momentum with her attacking play, tying it at 10-10 at one point before allowing Kuuba an 11-10 lead going into the break.

Bansod continued to attack and though it led to some errors, the Indian was keeping toe-to-toe with Kuuba, tying the game at 15-15 and 19-19, and was in with a shout of forcing the third game.

However, the Estonian kept her calm and used her superior experience at the top level to eke out the two points she needed to close out the game and the match.

Though she began her 2020 season with a loss, things are looking up for Malvika Bansod. She was included in the Indian team for the Uber Cup alongside PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal and if she comes up with such strong performances, Bansod could develop into a regular challenger at the senior level.

There are three other Indian badminton players in action in the men’s singles later in the day at the SaarLorLux Open.

Defending champion Lakshya Sen plays USA’s Howard Shu while 2018 champion Subhankar Dey is up against Canadian Brian Yang.

Veteran Ajay Jayaram faces third-seeded Dutchman Mark Caljouw in what will be the Indian’s second match in two days, having beaten Maxime Moreels on Tuesday.