Saina has Sindhu's number again

PERFECT FINISH: Saina Nehwal produced a dominating performance to tame PV Sindhu in the women's final and claim her fourth Senior National badminton title on Saturday. PTI

Saina Nehwal beat PV Sindhu in straight games in the marquee clash of the tournament to retain her women's singles crown at the 83rd Yonex Sunrise Senior Badminton Nationals here on Saturday.

The three-time former champion Saina used her powerful smashes to telling effect, registering a 21-18, 21-15 win in the summit clash against Sindhu.

Sourabh Verma completed a hat-trick of titles, claiming the men's singles crown by defeating young Lakshya Sen in straight games.

"It was a good match and both of us played really well and it is a great feeling to win the nationals in such an atmosphere," Saina, who has lost to Sindhu only once in international events at India Open 2017, told reporters.

"Sindhu is playing at the highest level for quite sometime and we both are playing well and she is a very tough opponent. It was not a simple match, there were tough rallies and simple errors from her helped me to win."

In a repeat of last edition's final in Nagpur, 2012 Olympics bronze medallist Saina once again had the upper hand over Sindhu during the exciting clash which was witnessed by a capacity crowd at the TRP Indoor stadium here.

Saina had also defeated 2016 Rio Games silver medallist Sindhu at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games summit clash last year.

Sourabh, the 26-year-old from MP's Dhar, showed good composure and used his experience to outdo 17-year-old Lakshya for the second time at the senior national finals. He had beaten Lakshya, then 15, in February 2017.

"Winning the nationals for the first time (in 2011) is always special but this time also it was a great feeling. Lakshya is improving regularly and every time you have to be alert against him. It was my fourth final (lost in Patna Nationals) and third win," Sourabh said.

In men's doubles, second-seeded makeshift pair of Pranaav Jerry Chopra and Chirag Shetty clinched the title after beating top seeds Arjun MR and Shlok Ramchandran 21-13, 22-20 in 33 minutes.

Chirag and Pranaav came together after the former's regular partner Satwik Rankireddy was sidelined ahead of the tournament due to an injury. Satwik and Chirag had finished runners-up at the last edition.

For Pranaav, it is his third national title, having won the men's doubles crown along with Akshay Dewalkar in 2013 and 2015 and the mixed doubles title with Prajakta Sawant in 2010.

Manu Attri and Maneesha K later beat top seeds Rohan Kapoor and Kuhoo Garg 18-21, 21-17, 21-16 to claim the mixed doubles crown.

In the women's final, egged on by a vociferous crowd, Saina used her trademark smashes to either finish points or create openings.

Sindhu, on the other hand, lacked precision in her strokes, hit too many mid court returns, and also misjudged the shuttle at the backcourt.

Saina's unforced errors initially cost her three points but she smashed her way to make it 3-4. Sindhu opened up a 7-5 lead but Saina managed to keep her nose ahead with a 11-10 lead at the break when Sindhu went wide.

Saina continued to dictate the pace and led 15-11. A superb cross court smash and a net dribble gave Sindhu two points before she again hit long.

With Saina leading 18-15, the match was stopped due to an issue pertaining to indoor lighting.

On resumption, Sindhu played a smash and drop shot to reduce the deficit but Saina earned three game points with power-packed smashes and sealed it with another after Sindhu saved one.

At 3-3 in the second game, Saina found the net twice but she again clawed back at 5-5 with a smash.

The 28-year-old continued her great run and eventually grabbed a 11-9 advantage when Sindhu's smash went wide.

Errors continued to creep in her game as Saina sealed the contest without much ado.

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Saina has Sindhu's number again

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