Bengaluru, Jan 13: The Delhi Acers came out with their strongest performance to beat the Mumbai Rockets 5-0 and enter the Premier Badminton League (PBL) semi-finals as the top ranked team with 20 points at the Kanteerava Indoor Stadium here on Wednesday (January 13).
Though they lost their first two ties of the league, the team from the national capital fought back strongly to finish with a hat-trick of wins and enter the semi-finals as the favourites.
On the other hand, the Rockets suffered their second loss in five outings but importantly they lie in a precarious position and the qualification for the semis depend on the next match between the Chennai Smashers and Bengaluru Top Guns.
Having already qualified for the knockouts earlier, the Acers experimented with the scratch combination of Akshay Dewalkar and Aparna Balan in mixed doubles. The gamble did not work as they lost to Vladimir Ivanov and Kamilla Rytter Juhl 13-15, 11-15, handing the Rockets a 1-0 lead.
"Today is the last day of the league phase so every point will count. It's good we started with a victory," Ivanov said.
The one point that the Rockets earned was wasted when in women's singles Ruthvika Gadde lost their Trump Match to PC Thulasi of the Acers 11-15, 15-5, 13-15 to hand the Delhi-based team a 1-0 lead.
"This is a confidence booster win for our team. It was a Trump Match for Mumbai and after winning the first game I lost focus in the second and paid the price. Luckily, I held my nerves in the third and managed to win a vital point for our team," said Thulasi.
Top Indonesian men's singles shuttler Tommy Sugiarto then comfortably made it 2-0 for the Acers when he beat HS Prannoy of the Rockets 15-8, 15-6.
"A pretty comfortable win for our team which will really help our team's confidence for the upcoming semifinal. We have already qualified for the semifinals and these games will really help us to try different combinations in the all important next stage," Sugiarto said.
Experienced Acers pair of Koon Keat Kien and Tan Boon Heong then earned a brilliant come-from-behind win to beat Vladimir Ivanov and Mathias Boe in the men's doubles 11-15, 15-12, 15-10 to extend the Acers' lead to an unassailable 3-0.
The Trump was put on Rajiv Ouseph for the Acers and the men's singles specialist did not disappoint as he rubbed salt on the wounds of the Rockets by defeating RMV Gurusaidutt of the Rockets 15-7, 15-10 to earn two points.
The Acers are the only team to earn five points from a tie yet, which they now have achieve twice.