S Sankar beat Thailand’s Nachakorn Pusri 21-10, 21-12 in round of 16 to keep India’s medal hopes alive in the competition. The fourth-seeded Indian will face China’s Hu Zhe An, who beat countryman Wang Zi Jun 21-16, 21-19 in his pre-quarter final clash.
However, the 14-year-old Unnati lost to Japan’s Hina Akechi 17-21, 21-12, 18-21 in a well-contested — an hour and 2 minutes long — round of 16 clash.
Hooda, world No 5 in the junior badminton rankings and the fifth seed in the tournament, struggled to read Hina Akechi’s crafty drop shots early in the first game and fell behind 11-7 early. However, she recovered and managed to draw level soon. The game was tight right till the end but Akechi found an extra gear right at the end to take the first game.
Unnati, who became the youngest Indian to win a BWF Super 100 title after claiming the Odisha Open women’s singles title in January, came roaring back in the second game and dominated her Japanese opponent to draw level. In the decider, the Indian teenager started well but eventually slipped up to crash out.
Following Thursday’s results, S Sankar remains the only Indian still alive in the competition.
Notably, former world No 1 Saina Nehwal is the only Indian to win the junior world championship crown to date while rising star Lakshya Sen was India’s last medallist at the event with a bronze in 2018.
The BWF World Junior Championships were not held in 2020 and 2021 due to Covid-19. The junior championships conclude on October 30.
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