World champion Carolina Marin had to find a special gear against 2018 India Open champion Beiwen Zhang to help Pune 7 Aces earn their first points in the fourth edition of the Premier Badminton League at the NSCI Dome here on Monday.
Marin, who had lost her first match of the new season against Hyderabad Hunters’ P.V. Sindhu in the tournament opener, was under a lot of pressure after her team lost the first two matches of the second tie, having lost all the five matches on Saturday.
Zhang was clearly high on confidence with her team already 3-0 ahead and that showed in her aggressive play in the opening game and had a 9-7 lead before Marin strung a series of four points to get a two-point advantage.
Marin then showed the trademark big match temperament to see off a spirited fight from Zhang, who closed in at 14-13, by raising the tempo of the rally to pocket the game.
The Spaniard seemed to be in a hurry to finish the match as she simply raised the pace of the rallies and was seen moving quickly between points as she raced to an 8-1 lead.
Zhang fought back well after the mid-game interval as she managed to close the gap at 11-8 but Marin kept her composure to win 15-13, 15-9 to claim two points of the trump match and close the gap on Awadhe Warriors.
Earlier, Pune’s hopes of starting the second tie of the tournament with a win did not fructify despite Brice Leverdez putting up a strong fight against Awadhe Warriors’ icon player and World No 5, Son Wan Ho.
The Frenchman, who had beaten the likes of former world number one, Lee Chong Wei on the BWF Tour, looked primed to spring an upset when he came back from an 11-8 deficit to earn two game points at 12-14 in the first game.
But that was not to be as the South Korean Son dominated the net on the next three points to pocket the first game and never looked under pressure in the second, racing to a 15-14, 15-7 win.
Pune 7 Aces, who this time patterned Vladimir Ivanov with skipper Mathias Boe for men’s doubles, would have hoped that the experienced duo could finally find a way to that elusive point which would get them rolling in the competition.
But Lee Yang and Mathias Christiansen cruised in the opening game and those Ivanov and Boe fought back from a 6-12 deficit to take the game till the decider point then ended up losing the match 15-12, 15-14.
The result meant that Awadhe Warriors now have a 3-0 lead in the tie and Pune 7 Aces icon player Carolina Marin now needs to win her trump against Beiwen Zhang to keep the team alive in this tie and the Spaniard did that in style.