NAGPUR: It doesn’t get any bigger than this. The dream final between PV Sindhu versus Saina Nehwal is happening for the first time in the history of Senior National Badminton Championships.
Both star shuttlers notched up contrasting victories in their respective semifinals to set up a mouthwatering women’s singles clash at the Divisional Sports Complex here on Tuesday. The men’s singles final will also be held between the top two seeds. Kidambi Srikanth needed to stretch himself against unseeded Lakshya Sen before he stopped the rising teenager in his strides.
On the other hand, second seed Prannoy did not have much problem in halting the giant-killing run of Subhankar Dey, who had knocked out third seed B Sai Praneeth on Monday.
The much-expected summit clash between Saina and Sindhu was under major threat when G Ruthvika Shivani won the first game against her fancied opponent. Ruthvika raised the bar and gave her best to jump to seven-point lead in the first game. Sindhu fought back towards the end but could not overcome the big deficit and lost the first game 17-21.
There was a spring in Ruthvika’s strides after winning the first game. Even the 5000-odd crowd was supporting the underdog Ruthvika as she matched her opponent stroke for stroke. The tension was visible on the face of Sindhu. The defeat at the hands of same opponent in the final of the SAFF Games a couple of years ago must have been in the back of her mind.
Ruthvika believed that she can do it again but she failed to keep the momentum going and like a true champion Sindhu grabbed the chance. The world No. 2 changed the tacticts and involved Ruthvika in long rallies which made her tired. Sindhu claimed the second game 21-15 much to the relief of fans and organizers. The decider was completely dominated by Sindhu as Ruthvika made several unforced errors. Her sharp drops, which proved quite handy in the first game, started landing in the net.
“Ruthvika played very well, probably the best she could do. After losing the first game, I have to change the plans and played long rallies which proved useful for me. Once I saw she was tired, I knew I can dictate the terms in the later stages of the match,” said Sindhu.
On the big final against Saina, Sindhu said, “it will be a very good match. Everybody here is waiting for us to enter the final. I will have to play better than today to win the final against Saina. It will be for the first time we are playing against each other in the Nationals.”
Saina was in full flow and did not give any chance whatsoever to Anura Prabhudesai in the second semis. The power game of Saina had no answer from Goan teenager. The men’s singles final between two in-form players Srikanth and Prannoy will also be the star attraction on the seventh and last day. The duo recently played at Paris in the French Open Super Series semifinal where Srikanth rallied back from the brink of defeat to edge past his practice partner in the semifinal.
Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, BAI president Himanta Biswa Sarma and MBA president Arun Lakhani will be the chief guests for the prize distribution ceremony on Wednesday evening.
1-K Srikanth bt Lakshya Sen 21-16, 21-18; 2-HS Prannoy bt Subhankar Dey 21-14, 21-17.
1-PV Sindhu bt G Ruthvika Shivani 17-21, 21-15, 21-11; 2-Saina Nehwal bt 5-Anura Prabhudesai 21-11, 21-10.
1-Satwik Sai Raj-Chirag Shetty bt 3-MR Arjun-Shlok Ramchandran 21-15, 21-13; 2-Manu Attri-B Sumeeth Reddy bt Alwin Francis-K Nanda Gopal 21-18, 21-18.
1-N Sikki Reddy-Ashwini Ponnappa bt Aparna Balan-KP Sruthi 21-10, 21-14; Sanyogita Ghorpade-Prajakta Sawant bt Rutaparna Panda-UK Mithula 18-21, 21-12, 21-16.
1-Pranaav Jerry Chopra-N Sikki Reddy bt Alwin Francis-Aparna Balan 21-16, 22-24, 21-8; 2-Satwik Sai Raj-Ashwini Ponnappa bt Sanyam Shukla-Sanyogita Ghorpade 4-4 (Retired).