Rajawat marks his arrival, wins Orleans Masters badminton

By, New Delhi
Apr 09, 2023 09:53 PM IST

In a battle of 21-year-olds, he downed Denmark’s Magnus Johannesen in three games to win the Super 300 event in France for his first BWF World Tour title

There was much in common between the two shuttlers facing off at the Palais des Sports in the men’s final of the Orleans Masters on Sunday. Priyanshu Rajawat and Denmark’s Magnus Johannesen, both 21 and keen to make a mark globally, had only recently broken into the top 50 in world rankings. Both were promoted to the main draw from the reserves, and were chasing their first title on the BWF World Tour.

Priyanshu Rajawat
Priyanshu Rajawat

There were a couple of dissimilarities too that mattered in the eventual outcome. Rajawat had already played in a final – 2022 Odisha Open. More importantly, the world No 58 was part India’s victorious Thomas Cup campaign last year.

The experience Rajawat had gained in those two events made all the difference as he dug deep to win the $240,000 Super 300 event in France, marking his arrival on the big stage. The player from Dhar, Madhya Pradesh came out on top of a roller-coaster final, winning 21-15, 19-21, 21-16.

“I am extremely happy. It’s a big tournament for me. I also want to thank the Indians in the crowd who supported me,” a delighted Rajawat said after the one hour and eight-minute match.

Always hailed as an agile and speedy youngster, Rajawat’s only drawback perhaps was his impatience earlier. But he showed a lot of maturity to control his aggression and speed, using them at the right moments to win the title in a country where he wants to qualify for his first Olympics in a year.

India No 1 HS Prannoy, who played a critical role in the Thomas Cup triumph, spoke about his young teammate from the campaign.

“During the Thomas Cup, our conversations would be on how to take this tournament very seriously. It all revolved around that. At times if you are a youngster in the team, you can feel you don’t have a role. But we told him everybody plays a role.

“There are four singles players in a team. If one cannot play the fourth, one has to prepare and be ready, be it the quarters, semis or final. The experience from Thomas Cup, to see that kind of intense matches from close, how things change in a match, it gave a big insight to him to prepare for bigger events,” said the world No 9.

It did help. Promoted to the main draw after seven withdrawals, Rajawat cashed in. He didn’t lose a game on the way to the final before beating a player ranked nine spots above him.

The field was open after many top players skipped the event, which was upgraded from Super 100 only this year, and no seeded player made it past the second round. Rajawat accounted for the biggest upset when he beat top seed and world No 12 Kenta Nishimoto of Japan in Round 2.

An attacking player, Rajawat used his range of smashes – flick, slice, down the line, body, backhand and cross court – to flummox Johannesen in the first game. His winners showed he was far superior to the left-hander. The world No 58 was anticipating the Dane’s lift early, giving him the time to play his shots with precision. While both were trying to push the other to the rear corners of the court, the extra zing in Rajawat’s game helped him bag the first game in 19 minutes.

However, for the first time in the entire week, Rajawat started making uncharacteristic errors which helped Johannesen lead for most of the second game. Fallen behind, he went for one too many with Johannesen drawing multiple net errors from Rajawat, who lost his first game of the tournament in 24 minutes.

Rajawat, a Pullela Gopichand protégé, though turned the tables in the decider. Knowing that the Dane’s slower, waiting game had an advantage in the longer rallies, he lowered his tempo and slowed the contest to Johannesen’s pace. The tactic worked as Rajawat started to pull away. Johannesen though did not give up, and from 2-7 down, levelled the decider at 9-all. In an incredibly topsy turvy game, Rajawat finally found a spring in his step as Johannesen started to look fatigued after long rallies. The smash, Rajawat's primary weapon, helped him pull away and give himself seven championship points, converting the fourth.

“He is very talented. He moves quickly, is very light (on his feet) and his shots have that punch. He is able to reach the shuttle at a very high point, which helps him create good angles. He may not look it, but Priyanshu is a very explosive player who has good, strong weapons that can continuously get you into trouble. He has good deception at net and a good overall game. Winning a Super 300 is a very good result as he has beaten quite a few good players like Nishimoto,” said Prannoy.


    From badminton to cricket, Sandip Sikdar writes on many sporting disciplines. He has the experience of working in digital, news agency as well as print organisations. Motorsport remains his first love.

Story Saved
Live Score
Saved Articles
My Reads
My Offers
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Saturday, September 23, 2023
Start 14 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Register Free and get Exciting Deals