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Popat in Asian Satellite final

Last updated on: October 23, 2003 20:29 IST

Top seed Aparna Popat will clash with third seed Polsana Salakjit of Thailand in the women's final in the Indian Oil Asian Satellite Badminton Championships on Friday.

Popat, who had lost to the same opponent in the last edition of the event in Mumbai, will hope to maintain her winning ways which saw her overcome the challenge of fourth seed Xio Luxi of Singapore 13-10, 11-9 in the semi-finals in Jaipur on Thursday.

Polsana upset second seed Li Li of Singapore in a keenly-contested tie, winning 9-11, 11-9, 11-9 to make it to the summit clash.

But the Indian challenge in the men's singles came to an end when south-paw Nikhil Kanetkar went down to top seed Cong Wei Lee of Malaysia 9-15, 2-15.

Kanetkar, who was the last Indian hope in the event after exit of defending champion and third seed Abhinn Shyam Gupta in the quarter-finals of Thursday's morning session, had no answer to the awesome power and amazing court coverage of the 24th ranked Malaysian as he let established a 6-1 lead in the first game.

Lee will meet second seeded countryman Yeoh Key Bin in the title clash.

Bin had to counter stiff resistance from unseeded Malaysian Kuan Beng Hong before taking the tie 15-11, 15-13.

Earlier, in the quarter-finals on Thursday morning, defending champion and third seed Abhinn Shyam Gupta was shocked by unfancied Kuan Beng Hong of Malaysia.

Gupta, who is also the Indian champion and ranked 57th in the world, was handed a 13-15, 15-7, 15-10 defeat by Hong, ranked 100th in the world.

However, unseeded Kanetkar gave home fans something to cheer about, sailing into the semi-finals, with a comprehensive 15-1, 15-7 victory over compatriot J B S Vidhyadhar.

Top seed Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia, ranked 24th, beat Sachin Ratti 15-10, 15-8.

Second seed Yeoh Key Bin of Malaysia also played to the form book, quashing the challenge of Chetan Anand 15-9, 15-4.

In the women's section, the seeded players played true to their reputation to sail into last four.

Top seed and national champion Aparna Popat beat Singapore's Jiyang Yamnei 9-11, 11-5, 11-2; second seed Li Li of Singapore beat Shruti Kurian 11-2, 11-1; third seed Salakjit Polsana of Thailand defeated Manjusha Kanwar 11-4, 11-2, and fourth seed Siao Luxi of Singapore ended the challenge of Trupti Murgunde 11-7, 11-3 to complete the semi-final line-up.

Abhinn had a sizeable lead in the first game but allowed Hong to catch up. Though he won the game 15-13, the Malaysian grew in confidence and took the second 15-7 to draw parity.

It was a neck and neck fight in the beginning of the decider. Abhinn opened up a lead of 8-5 at the change of sides, but failed to work on the advantage and poor finishing led to Hong taking a 13-8 lead.

With service changing hands, Abhinn clawed to 10-13 but the Malaysian wrapped up the match, wnning the third game 15-10.

A dejected Abhinn said later he was "distracted by an advertisement on the back wall of the court. "The advertisement being white made it hard for me to sight the shuttle," he said.

But he also admitted that he lacked the ability to finish.

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