13.08.16: Ouseph through to Olympic last 16
Rajiv Ouseph is through to the men’s singles knockout stages with a comfortable two-game victory over Japan’s Sho Sasaki in Rio.
With both Ouseph and Sasaki having beaten Czech Republic’s Petr Koukal in their opening Group I match, the tension of this must-win clash showed in the first game.
But the 29-year-old Ouseph started impressively, racing to an 11-5 lead by the break with an array of quality hitting.
The game wasn’t to finish quite so straightforwardly, however, with Sasaki fighting back strongly to take an 13-12 lead – with the tightness showing exactly why the two held a 3-3 head-to-head record prior to the Olympic Games.
But a pin-point Ouseph smash gave him a 15-13 advantage, eventually closing out the game 21-15 to hold a vital advantage.
And the momentum of the Team GB star carried through to game two, streaking into a 4-0 lead prior to reaching the halfway stage in a strong position at 11-4.
It was a lead Ouseph never looked like relinquishing, gliding his way across the court to prevail 21-15 21-9, reaching the last 16 in his second Olympic Games.
"I knew this was going to be the crucial game when the draw came out so I am very happy to have won and I am looking forward to the next round now," said Ouseph.
"It looked comfortable but it wasn’t always that comfortable. I think the first set was quite crucial and when he came back a little bit at me it was important to stick it out there and be tough."
He added: "It is about managing the occasion now because obviously the Olympics is every four years so I’ll try my best and work at that.
"Last time I was a bit nervous with it being my first Olympic Games experience and I was not sure how I should act or react and stuff.
"So having done this one time before I think it has helped me this time around and I will try and use that in the next round."
See all the stars of Rio in Birmingham next March! Tickets for the YONEX All England Open Badminton Championships 2017 at the Barclaycard Arena are now on general sale.