India were assured of at least three medals from the badminton courts at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games as shuttler Pramod Bhagat (SL3), Suhas Yathiraj (SL4) and Krishna Nagar (SH6) stormed into the Men's Singles finals in SL3 and SL4 and SH6 class respectively on Saturday.
Bhagat, the World No 1 in SL3 class, defeated Daisuke Fujihara of Japan 2-0 (21-11, 21-16) in the semifinals, while Yathiraj got the better of Sethiwan Fredy of Indonesia 2-0 (21-9, 21-15) in SL4 class. Nagar, the 22-year-old from Jaipur, defeated Krysten Coombs of Great Britain 21-10, 21-11 in 26 minutes to reach the final in the Men's Singles SH6.
In SL3 and SL4 sections, two Indians will be figuring in the bronze medal matches. Manoj Sarkar lost in the semifinals to Daniel Bathell of Great Britain in the SL3 section while Tarun Dhillon lost 16-21, 16-21, 21-16 to France's Lucas Mazur, the top seed, in a three-setter that went past the one-hour mark.
The mixed doubles pair of Pramod Bhagat and Palak Kohli will also contest for the bronze medal as they lost to World No. 1 pair of Hary Susanto and Oktila Ratri Leani 21-3, 21-15. Bhagat-Kohli will now take on the Japanese pair of Daisuke Fujihara and Akiko Sugino for the bronze medal.
Bhagat, the reigning world champion in this class, took an early lead in his semifinal clash with the Japanese and rode the momentum to emerge 21-11, 21-16 to surge into the final at the Yoyogi National Stadium here.
In the final, Bhagat will meet World No. 2 Daniel Bathell, the man he beat in the final of the World Championship in Basel in 2019. Bathell defeated India's Manoj Sarkar 21-8, 21-10 in the second semifinal, surging ahead from 9-9 in the second game to win in 38 minutes.
Bhagat served well and capitalised on the advantage of opening he could create by moving the shuttle up and down to win 15 points on his service. He had a big lead of 10 points and did not make many mistakes as he won easily.
The second game was tougher as Fujihara tried to counter the Indian's game. But Bhagat was not to be denied as he went on to win the second game 21-16 and sealed victory.
The SL3 class games are played in one-half of the badminton court as the players can't make a sideways movement.
India can now expect two medals from this section, Bhagat fighting for the gold while Sarkar will take on Fujihara in the bronze medal match to be played later in the day.
Yathiraj, who is the district magistrate of Gautam Buddha Nagar (NOIDA) in Uttar Pradesh, found the going easy in the first game as he controlled the rallies and moved his opponent around with measured strokes. He won 14 points on his serve while taking seven off Sitawan's serve. The Indonesian put up a tougher fight in the second but Yathiraj won it at 15 to win the semifinal.
Dhillon put up a brilliant fight in the semifinal against Mauzer after losing the first game 21-14. He took a seven points lead and maintained his hold to win the second set. The two players neck-and-neck in the third game before Mauzer broke away to win the game 21-18.