Parupalli Kashyap won his first national championship, while Sayali Gokhale reclaimed hers, as the premier national event concluded in Srinagar on Thursday.
In a battle between two of the highest ranked Indians, Kashyap won in straight games over Ajay Jayaram, 21-18 21-17. Sayali Gokhale exceeded expectations by surprising defending champion PV Sindhu 21-15 15-21 21-15.
Aparna Balan won a double, as she combined with Arun Vishnu for the mixed doubles title, and then with Sikki Reddy for the women’s doubles. Manu Attri and Sumeeth Reddy took the men’s doubles over third seeds Akshay Dewalkar/ Pranaav Chopra.
But it was the two singles matches that stole the show. PV Sindhu was expected to dominate Sayali, as she has been in red-hot form over the last few months, but Sayali played her retrieving game well to frustrate Sindhu. Despite losing the second game, the Pune girl, who trains in Bangalore, refused to give in and kept returning Sindhu’s steep shots.
Kashyap has twice finished runner-up and had a rusty start in the team championships. But in the open event, he came into his own and hit peak form in the last two matches, accounting for K Srikanth in the semifinals and Jayaram in the final without losing a game.
“I am happy, actually relieved,” said Kashyap. “I have been waiting for this title for very long. It was a tough match. Ajay and I have been competing against each other since our junior days. He is always a tough competitor to play against I am very happy with this win. I lost to Aravind Bhat in Indore (2009) and Rohtak (2011). I was under pressure to perform today because I wanted to become national champion. Whenever I am under pressure, I do well as I did in Commonwealth Games and London Olympics,” Kashyap told the press.
Jayaram was crestfallen that he could not play his best. “I could not execute my plans and he hit his strokes better,” he said. “Though I had a lead in the second, I could not make it count. But, I will be taking lots of positives from this tournament.”
WS: Sayali Gokhale bt PV Sindhu 21-15 15-21 21-15;
MS: P Kashyap bt Ajay Jayaram 21-18 21-17;
XD: Aparna Balan/ Arun Vishnu bt Ashwini Ponnappa/ Tarun Kona 21-13 18-21 21-15
WD: Sikki Reddy/ Aparna Balan bt Varsha Belawadi/ GM Nischitha 21-11 21-13
MD: Manu Attri/ Sumeeth Reddy bt Akshay Dewalkar/ Pranaav Chopra 10-21 21-14 21-12