Srikanth, Sindhu emerge champs
The men’s event had a new winner in 20-year-old Srikanth, who had clinched the Thailand Open Grand Prix Gold this year. Sindhu won the title for the second time having earlier won it in 2011. Sindhu had an easy task against diminutive junior national champion Rituparna Das but had to fight her way in the second game before winning the match 21-11, 21-17.
Srikanth, seeded fifth, had a tougher battle in hand. Up against the second seed RMV Gurusaidutt, Srikanth had to produce his best to win his maiden title with a 21-13, 22-20 victory. Both the men’s and women’s singles champions earned Rs 80,000, while the runners-up took home Rs 40,000.
The women’s doubles final between Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa and Pradnya Gadre and N Sikki Reddy also aroused the interest. It was an intensely fought match where Jwala and Ashwini wasted four match points before winning 21-17, 21-16 for their second national title.
The men’s double s title was won by top seeds Pranaav Chopra and Akshay Dewalkar who beat Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy, seeded second, 21-19, 21-17. The mixed doubles title was claimed by second seeds Arun Vishnu and Aparna Balan who upstaged top seeds Tarun Kona and Ashwini 21-10, 21-17.
It was a quality fare in the men’s singles. Both Srikanth and Gurusaidutt, trainees at the Pullela Gopichand Academy, put in their all in an contest that touched 40 minutes.
A gangly Srikanth dictated the pace of rallies with smashes and Gurusaidutt struggled to find the answers to them. Engaging, fast-paced rallies and exciting net dribbles entertained the sizeable gathering. Gurusaidutt put an appreciable fight in the second game but Srikanth’s all round effort carried him through.
The first game was largely a one-sided affair with Srikanth simply going for the kill. However, the second seed fought with resilience in the second game. He cut the pace of rallies with skillful net play. He led 3-1 but dropped the lead before clawing his way back into the match to level the scores at 16 all. Gurusaidutt finally nosed ahead 18-16 after yet another net dribble but Srikanth stormed back to draw parity. The possibility of a decider was raised when Gurusaidutt again caught up with Srikanth at 20-20 but the fifth-seed won the next two points to clinch the game and the match.
“I dreamt about winning the national crown. For me this is just a start of my career and I aim to win many more titles in the future,” said Srikanth.
The women’s singles match went on the expected lines. Sindhu, just an year older than the 17-year-old Rituparna, proved just too good for the opponent. Though Rituparna did trouble her with her drops and flicks, especially the cross drop off her backhand, in the second game. But once Sindhu got the lead at 14-12, there was no looking back. “It has been a good year for me. I am happy to end it on a high,” said Sindhu.
Results (all finals, prefix denotes seedings): Men’s singles: 5-K Srikanth bt 2-RMV Guru Sai Dutt 21-13, 22-20
Women’s singles: 2-PV Sindhu bt 15-Rituparna Das 21-11, 21-17 Women’s doubles: 2-Jwala Gutta/ Ashwini Ponnappa bt 1-Pradnya Gadre/ N Sikki Reddy (AAI) 21-17, 21-16 Men’s doubles: 1-Pranaav Chopra/ Akshay Dewalkar bt 2-Manu Atri/ B Sumeet Reddy 21-19, 21-17. Mixed Doubles: 2-Arun Vishnu/ Aparna Balan bt 1-K Tarun/ Ashiwini Ponnappa 21-10, 21-17.