Indian paddler Abhishek Yadav fought valiantly against world No. 1 and top-seeded Chinese Zhendong Fan before bowing out 2-4 (4-11, 13-11, 13-11, 4-11, 8-11, 7-11) in the semi-final of men’s singles event at the second Asian Youth Games here Monday night. But with no play-offs, the Indian ensured himself a bronze medal on his maiden appearance at the Games.
Incidentally, he booked his place in the Youth Olympics Games to be held here next year as the top eight players make it to the Games automatically. Yadav, despite losing the first game, came back strongly in the second and third to lead 2-1. In the fifth game, he ran the top-seed Chinese close with his courageous forehand and backhand topspin as he reduced the margin from 4-9 to 8-9 when the Chinese took timeout.
It turned out to be a nice strategy as the world junior champion never looked back after that. The Indian, despite losing the semi-final, was lauded by the appreciating crowd for giving a hard time to the home boy. “I am happy with my overall performance. But the Chinese was too good a player,” said Yadav, giving full credit to his rival.