Karunaratne wins but fails to qualify | Daily News


Karunaratne wins but fails to qualify

Sri Lanka’s Niluka Karunaratne in action during his men’s singles group ‘P’ victory over Adrian Dziolko of Poland. Picture by Prasanna Adhikari of Sports Ministry

RIO DE JANEIRO, Monday. – Sri Lanka’s undisputed national champion on 14 times, Niluka Karunaratne lived up to expectations and found the winning formula to beat Adrian Dziolko of Poland in an exciting two setter 21-19, 24-22 in their Olympic Games men’s singles badminton tournament group ‘P’ match played at Riocentro Pavilion 4 last evening.

It was an exciting tussle, although Karunaratne won the match in straight sets two-nil. He survived a huge challenge from the Polish before winning the first set in 24 minutes. But the second set, which lasted for 32 minutes, 26-year-old Dziolko stretched Karunaratne to the maximum before going down fighting.

Dziolko, who won his opening match against Kevin Cordon of Guatemala 18-21, 21-10, 21-13, is ranked 58th in the world rankings. But Karunaratne was ranked 93rd before the Olympics.

It was Karunaratne’s third and last match in Pool ‘P’, having received a walk over from injured Cordon. Karunaratne lost his first group match to China’s Long Chen in straight sets 7-21, 10-21. But in that game too, Karunaratne showed signs of what would have become a great fight back by holding the much fancied Chinese five-all in the second set.

At the last London 2012 Olympic Games, Karunaratne sprang a major upset when he beat the then world’s number eight Kenchi Tago of Japan 21-18 and 21-16 and qualified to move on to the next round. The Lankan lad was within the top 40 badminton players in the world then.

“I am happy that I could win this match. As I did in the last Olympics, I wanted to prove a point by beating a player who is ranked ahead of me,” Karunaratne told media after his thrilling victory.

However, Karunaratne, after finishing second in Group ‘P’, will not be fortunate to advance to the next round as only the leader of each group would make it to the next round. Accordingly, two-time world champion and Olympic bronze medallist Chen, who had won all three group stage matches, will move to the pre-quarter finals which began on Monday. Cordon also conceded a walkover to Chen in yesterday’s match.

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