India's Priyanshu Rajawat capped off an impressive week with a thrilling win in the final against Denmark's Magnus Johannesen to claim the men's singles title at the Orleans Masters in Orleans on Sunday. (More Badminton News)
The 21-year-old from Madhya Pradesh, who had played one match as part of the Indian team that registered an epic win at the 2022 Thomas Cup, saw off world number 49 Johannesen 21-15 19-21 21-16 in a 68-minute summit clash to grab the biggest title of his career.
The two shuttlers, making it to the final after coming through the qualifiers, dished out some superb badminton, but the Indian rode on his ability to produce winners to secure the world tour super 300 crown.
It was the first meeting between the two 21-year-olds, both looking for a breakthrough win, but Rajawat, who didn't drop a game in the USD 240,000 tournament, showed his maturity as he dished out a controlled aggressive game to come up trumps.
The image of an airborne Rajawat unleashing a forehand crosscourt jump smash to trouble his opponent will be etched in the mind of the spectators, as he accumulated multiple points with this trademark shot.
A year ago, Rajawat had returned early from Orleans when it was a super 100 event, but the tournament was upgraded to super 300 from this year, and the Indian made the most of the opportunity.
Rajawat, who picked up the sport as a six-year-old, made a positive start to the final, but Johannesen kept a good length to not allow the Indian to play his attacking game initially.
However, the Indian soon opened up the court with his range of strokes and moved to 6-5 with two aggressive returns on the left-handed Dane's backhand.
A precise toss on the backline from Rajawat coupled with a long shot from his rival helped the Indian move to 9-7. He then unleashed a backhand smash and then produced another winner to take a three-point cushion at the mid-game interval.
Rajawat showed great anticipation, which allowed him to get into position early and bring down the shuttle with a thwack. Two cross-court smashes helped the Indian create a yawning gap at 18-11.
He misfired a few before unleashing a looping return on the backline to move to five game points and sealed the opening game with another cross-court winner.
After the change of sides, Johannesen strengthened his defence while Rajawat botched up some of his shots to allow the Dane lead 6-3.
Rajawat repeatedly found the net as the Dane led 8-5. Two clear winners kept the Indian in the hunt, but Johannesen managed to go into the break with a three-point cushion this time.
Rajawat fell into a pool of errors to allow the Dane increase the gap to 14-9.
The Indian clawed back at 17-15, producing some accurate winners, but a hard-working Johannesen again grabbed the lead and jumped to three game points with Rajawat committing errors.
The Indian saved two game points, but Rajawat sent another one to the net as the Dane took the match to the decider.
Rajawat zoomed to 5-0 and then 7-2 in the third game, after producing a series of winners, but Johannesen's defence soon started to withstand the onslaught as he narrowed it down to 7-8 after winning an incredible 54-shot rally.
With Rajawat misfiring, the Dane drew parity at 9-9 but the Indian managed to gain a small two-point cushion after producing two winners.
After the final changeover, the Indian got a second wind as he extended his lead to four points after winning another superb rally. Rajawat kept the rallies in his firm grip and soon grabbed seven championship points with another cross-court smash.
He hit wide thrice before pushing the shuttle at the back court on a return to serve, and lifted his hand in celebration.