Nagpur: Saina Nehwal dug deep into her reservoir of experience and upstaged fancied PV Sindhu, quite incredibly, in straight games to clinch the women’s singles title in the Senior National badminton championships here, Wednesday. The 27-year-old Saina got the better of Sindhu 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 easily,” an elated Saina said after the win.
In another upset of sorts, second seed HS Prannoy saw off top seed and World No. 2 Kidambi Srikanth 21-15, 16-21, 21-7 in a 49-minute battle to win the men’s singles title.
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. In the mixed doubles summit clash, Ashwin and Satwik beat top seed and World No. 16 Pranaav Jerry Chopra and Sikki Reddy 21-9, 20-22, 21-17 while in women’s doubles Ashwini and Sikki Reddy trounced Sanyogita Ghorpade and Prajakta Sawant 21-14, 21-14 to win the crown.
Second seeds Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy bounced back from a game and three-match point 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 inside the stadium here reached a crescendo during the Saina-Sindhu battle. 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. She built the lead to 17-12, only to see Sindhu narrow the gap to 16-17. However, three unforced errors saw her losing the game to Saina.
In the second game, Sindhu lead 5-2 only to see Saina draw parity at six-all. Sindhu again led 11-8, 14-10 and 18-14. However, from then on errors crept into Sindhu’s game and Saina caught up at 18-all. Saina then had match points on 20-19 and 24-23, but on both occasions Sindhu saved them with telling smashes. However, when Saina had another match point at 26-25 and she closed out the tie with a steep smash that Saina failed to retrieve.
The men’s final was also exhilarating affair where fortunes swung like a pendulum. After the players had shared two games, it was Prannoy’s aggressive intent that helped him win the third game easily. Prannoy’s telling smashes and cross-court flicks found Srikanth wanting.
Press Trust of India