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Deepika stuns former World champ, but loses in QF

Last updated on: July 30, 2021 12:26 IST
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Deepika no match for 20-year-old South Korean top seed An San in the quarter-finals.

India's Deepika Kumari competes in the Olympics women's Individual 1/8 archery eliminations, at Yumenoshima Park Archery Field in Tokyo, on Friday.

IMAGE: India's Deepika Kumari competes in the Olympics women's Individual 1/8 archery eliminations, at Yumenoshima Park Archery Field in Tokyo, on Friday. Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

World No. 1 archer Deepika Kumari's quest for a medal at the Olympics ended in heartbreak for the third time as she was humbled by South Korean top seed An San in straight sets in the quarter-finals, in Tokyo, on Friday.

 

The Indian ace misfired four 7s, as An, who had broken a 25-year-old Olympic record en route to topping the ranking round, wrapped up the women's individual match 6-0 in less than six minutes.

It was yet another heart-breaking outing at the Games for the three-time Indian Olympian.

In the 2016 Rio Olympics, she lost in the pre-quarter-finals, while at her maiden Olympics in London, where she had gone as a No. 1 ranked player, she crashed out in the opening round.

Deepika's husband Atanu Das is the only Indian left in contention for a medal. He made the pre-quarter-finals on Thursday with a stunning shoot-off win over two-time Olympic champion Oh Jin Hyek.

In his last-16 match, slated for Saturday, Das will face home favourite Takaharu Furukawa, an individual silver medallist at the 2012 Olympics and a team bronze winner at the ongoing Games.

Deepika stuns former World champ to enter quarter-finals

Earlier, Deepika beat former World champion Ksenia Perova of the Russian Olympic Committee in a thrilling shoot-off to advance to the quarter-finals.

Locked 5-5 after the regulation five-setter, the 27-year-old Indian held her nerve in the shoot-off to deliver a perfect 10, hitting the bull's eye, to topple the Russian, a team silver medallist at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Starting off the one-arrow shoot-off, the Russian crumbled under pressure as she misfired a seven while a composed Deepika sealed the issue 6-5 (10-7) without any fuss.

This was the first win from three matches for the three-time Olympian against the 2017 World champion as she became the first Indian to make the last-eight stage in an individual event of the archery competition in the Olympics.

"I've to fight and shoot better. I hope to do better in the next round. Right now, I need extra focus.

"I can't win if I'm nervous. I'm trying my best to regain my touch as quickly as possible," Deepika said, of her nervy outing against the Russian.

She failed to close out after taking a 4-2 and 5-3 lead in the third and fifth sets respectively.

"I'm really nervous. Yes, I started off well but it was all about Olympic pressure. It really became difficult (afterwards) to find the yellow-ring (that gives scores of either 9 or 10)."

Deepika had a flying start and raced to a 2-0 lead, drilling a perfect 10 in her second arrow as the experienced Russian faltered with a 7 in the last arrow to concede the set by three points (28-25).

Up 19-17 after two arrows in the second set, the Indian needed a 9 to take a 4-0 lead but only to misfire a 7 as the Russian gained control by one point (26-27) with a 10 for a 2-2 overall score.

It was some tight shooting from both archers from there on as Deepika edged out narrowly (28-27) courtesy a 10 in her first arrow.

A 10 eluded Deepika in the fourth set as both players hit an identical 9-8-9 to take the match to the fifth set with the Indian in the driver's set with a 5-3 lead.

But pressure got the better of Deepika once again as she could not capitalise her lead and misfired a 7 in her first arrow, conceding the set to her world number 8 opponent (25-28) to force a shoot-off after being 5-5.

Call it a stroke of luck or something else for Deepika, Perova misfired a 7 to start off the one-arrow shoot-off and the Indian held her nerve to seal the issue by hitting the bull's eye.

"I just tried to live in the present. I was very much relieved after she hit a 7. It definitely boosted my confidence," Deepika said of the shoot-off.

The sequence of the shoot-off follows the sequence of the start of the match, something that was chosen by the higher seed player.

Perova was a seed higher than Deepika who had finished ninth in the ranking round.

The Indian men's and mixed teams were earlier knocked out by the Koreans in their respective quarter-finals.

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