Super Saina fights past Sindhu

Prannoy shocks fancied Srikanth to lift men's title

Super Saina fights past Sindhu

Saina Nehwal dug deep into her reservoir of experience and upstaged fancied P V Sindhu, quite incredibly, in straight games to clinch the women's singles title in the Senior National Badminton Championships on Wednesday.

The 27-year-old Saina, a former world number one, got the better of Sindhu, the Olympic and World Championship silver medallist, 21-17, 27-25 in a pulsating summit clash that lasted 54 minutes.

"I am surprised with the way I played today. I moved well and picked Sindhu's difficult shots," an elated Saina said after the win.

Second seed H S Prannoy, who achieved a career-best World No 11 ranking last week, saw off top seed World No 2 Kidambi Srikanth 21-15, 16-21, 21-7 in a 49-minute battle to win the men's singles title in the 82nd edition of the tournament.

It was double delight for Ashwini Ponnappa, who claimed two titles -- clinching the mixed doubles with Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and women's doubles with N Sikki Reddy.

Second seeds Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy bounced back from a game and three-match points down in the second game to beat top seeds Satwik and Chirag Shetty 15-21, 22-20, 25-23 and win the men's doubles title.

The excitement reached a crescendo when Saina and Sindhu made it to the finals here. The whole stadium reverberated with cheers as both the players engaged in some exciting rallies at the Divisional Sports Complex.

The duo split the initial 10 points before Saina started putting the shuttle in difficult positions. She pushed it at the back court, came up with some bodyline returns to lead 10-7. A powerful smash then helped her grab a 11-9 lead in the first game.

Saina moved to a 17-12 lead after the interval before Sindhu reeled off four points to keep breathing down her opponents neck. However, unforced errors came back to haunt Sindhu as she hit out thrice and also found the net once to allow Saina to pocket the opening game.

The second game went down to the wire with both the shuttlers battling it out till the last point.

It was Sindhu, who raced away to a 5-2 lead, but Saina slowly constructed her points by ensuring Sindhu was crammed for space. She clawed back at 6-6, but Sindhu grabbed back the advantage at the break as she led 11-8.

The 22-year-old lanky shuttler extended her lead to 14-10 but committed a series of unforced errors to allow the London Games bronze medallist to draw parity at 18-18.

Some entertaining rallies ensued and both players exchanged points at will until Saina forced another error from an off-colour Sindhu to emerge champion.

The final between Srikanth and Prannoy also turned out to be an exhilarating one as the duo displayed their repertoire of strokes and athleticism during their fast-paced rallies.

Srikanth has been in the form of his life as he clinched four titles after reaching five finals this season but the statistics didn't matter on this day as Prannoy snapped his opponent's 13-match winning streak, and improving his own record to 4-2.

"It means a lot. It came at the right time for me. I have been playing this event. It is great that I could beat Srikanth in the final," Prannoy told PTI.

Ashwini and Satwik, who decided to pair up just six months back, showed their prowess by beating top seed and World No 16 Pranaav Jerry Chopra and N Sikki Reddy 21-9, 20-22, 21-17 to clinch the mixed doubles crown.

Later, Ashwini made it a double as she combined Sikki to dump Sanyogita Ghorpade and Prajakta Sawant 21-14, 21-14 in the women's doubles final.

 

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