New Delhi: When Subhankar Dey stepped on Court No 1 at the Indira Gandhi (IG) Stadium on Wednesday, he had more than an opposition to beat. A nomadic career interspersed with eccentric career moves had spawned its own legion of naysayers, but Dey has never really cared. Brandishing a white headband and glowering under the arclights, he cut the figure of a rebel; limited by resources, liberated by will. And yes, he played some damn good badminton too.
Having lost the first game 14-21 to Indonesia's World No 9 Tommy Sugiarto, Dey, 25, rallied to take the second game from 12-19 down. He won seven consecutive points to draw parity in a surreal blend of grit, tenacity, and fortitude. Cheered by a partisan crowd, Dey went on an all-out assault — Nadalesque fist-pumps and all — and rattled his experienced opponent. His excellent return game replete with full-length dives to retrieve the bird, power-packed smashes and fluid movements brought him point after point even as he rose the decibels with his relentless guttural cries. At 19-19, he gave away a point to bring Sugiarto on match point, but won the next three points to take the game.
On his part, Sugiarto was guilty of some loose play, but that must not take anything away from Dey's sublime efforts. The third game was a lot easier, as Dey broke from an 8-8 deadlock to seal a 14-21, 22-20, 21-11 win.
"I was just thinking that maybe this is the last 11 points I am playing. I decided to give my everything in every shot and keep up the pace," the Indian said after his memorable win.
This, though, was not the only occasion when Dey had caught a higher-seeded favourite off guard. Last November, he packed off Chinese great Lin Dan in 45 minutes en route a quarter-final berth at the SaarLorLux Open in Germany. He still holds that win in high regard and rated his giant-killing act of Sugiarto right next to his victory over 'Super Dan'.
"I will rate it as one of the best matches of my career. I am happy with the way I played. To beat a top ten and fourth seed player is big," he said.
"That match against Lin Dan was the best match of my career. It was a great moment to simply play against him, to beat him was a dream come true. Also, winning that tournament was a big achievement for me."
Dey's recent highs also include an unexpected win over World No 10 Jonatan Christie at this month's pre-quarter-final in Swiss Open. This is his third attempt at the India Open, and Wednesday was the first time that Dey managed to pass the first hurdle.
"Over the last six months, given the way I was playing, I am confident to beat any title and winning any good matches. It is a very special win. He is a great player and I had to be at my best to beat him," he said. Dey will next face Chinese Taipei's World No 32 Wang Tzu-wei on Thursday.
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Updated Date: Mar 28, 2019 08:46:01 IST