World No.1 Pramod Bhagat entered the badminton men's singles semifinals (SL3 class) after beating Ukraine's Oleksandr Chyrkov in his second Group A match at the Tokyo Paralympics on Thursday. The 33-year-old reigning world champion won 21-12, 21-9 in 26 minutes to top his group and enter the last four.
"I was in the groove today and played really well. Oleksandr Chyrkov is a good player and played some good strokes in the match. I am very happy that I have reached the semi-finals," Bhagat was quoted by PTI.
"Things are going to be tough from here as the knockout stages start. My focus is on one match at a time and also the last league game of the mixed doubles which is a do-or-die situation for us."
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Bhagat will also pair up with Palak Kohli in the mixed doubles class SL3-SU5 event. They will play Siripong Teamarrom and Nipada Saensupa on Friday.
Kohli, meanwhile, overcame Turkey's Zehra Baglar in her second women's singles match of Group A. In the SU5 class match, Kohli beat Zehra 21-12, 21-18 in 27 minutes. She had lost her opening match to Japan's Ayako Suzuki.
The other shuttlers who were in fray for India on Thursday -- Suhas Yathiraj, Tarun Dhillon and Krishna Nagar -- had a good day as well, opening their men's singles campaign impressively in their categories.
Suhas and Tarun notched up easy victories over Germany's Jan Niklas Pott and Thailand's Siripong Teamarrom in SL4 class. Second seed Krishna beat Malaysia's Taresoh Didin in the SH6 class.
Suhas, 38, took just 19 minutes to see off Pott 21-9, 21-3 in a lopsided clash, while Tarun, 27, didn't break a sweat, beating Teamarrom 21-7, 21-13. Krishna prevailed 22-20, 21-10 over Didin.
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Suhas will face Indonesia's Hary Susanto and then France's top seed Lucas Mazur on Friday. Second seeded Tarun will be up against Korea's Shin Kyung Hwan and Indonesia's Fredy Setiawan. The 22-year-old Krishna will take on Brazil's Vitor Goncalves Tavares next on Friday.
Earlier in the day, Kohli, 19, and her partner Parul Parmar, 48, went down 7-21, 5-21 to second seeded Chinese pair of Cheng Hefang and Ma Huihui in a Group B women's doubles SL3-SU5 class match.
The Indian pair will square off against the French duo of Lenaig Morin and Faustine Noel on Friday.
(With additions from PTI)
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