The last couple of weeks have been dreamlike for India’s star shuttler PV Sindhu. The Rio Olympic silver medallist got to back-to-back Superseries finals at the China Open and the Hong Kong Open, winning the former and also usurped Saina Nehwal from the India No. 1 spot.
Apart from these, she also added another feather to her cap. The recent success has seen the 21-year-old clinching the eighth and final berth in women’s singles at the prestigious World Superseries Finals to be held in Dubai from December 14-18.
This will mark her maiden appearance at this event which will have the crème de la crème of the badminton world. Considering that she was out of contention before embarking on her magical run in Asia, this is indeed an achievement she would savour.
Sindhu surpasses Saina in the points table for the last berth
After emerging victorious at the China Open Superseries Premier which gave her a whopping 11,000 points, Sindhu was locked in a battle with her compatriot Nehwal for the final spot. Saina had won the Australian Open in June before seeing her Rio campaign end in despair because of a knee injury that ultimately required surgery.
She returned to competition after a three-month hiatus and even though she exited in the first round of the China Open, the former World No. 1 put up a spirited display at the Hong Kong Open the very next week. The final Superseries event of the year was hotting up for a mouthwatering Saina vs Sindhu semi-final face-off with the winner guaranteed to take the final place at the Superseries Finals.
But the London Olympic bronze medallist lost narrowly in the last-eight stage thus conceding the seat to Sindhu. The Pullela Gopichand protégé, who was at 38,490 points after her China Open win, added another 7,800 from the Hong Kong final to take her tally to 46,290 points in the World Superseries Destination Dubai Rankings.
Saina, who was already 410 points behind Sindhu, secured only 5,040 points from her Hong Kong quarter-final finish to have a total score of 43,120. It was good enough for only ninth place in the race to Dubai.
The China Open champion will have stiff competition at the elite finale next month. The other seven women who have qualified include two World No.1s as well as a couple of in-form players such as Tai Tzu Ying and He Bingjiao, who have been Sindhu’s nemesis.
Full list of women’s singles players who have qualified:
1. Tai Tzu Ying – 78, 900 points
2. Akane Yamaguchi – 69, 110 points
3. Sun Yu – 56, 150 points
4. Sung Ji Hyun – 54, 960 points
5. Ratchanok Intanon – 54, 450 points
6. He Bingjiao – 52030 points
7. Carolina Marin – 46, 660 points
8. PV Sindhu – 46, 290 points
Srikanth missed out on qualification because of injury
The Superseries Finals is the culmination of the season-long Superseries circuit consisting of 12 tournaments of which 5 are Premier with higher ranking points and prize money. The best eight in each discipline (men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s doubles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles) qualify for the Superseries Finals at the end of each season.
This Superseries circuit was inaugurated in 2007 and since then, the best result an Indian has been able to garner is a runner-up position by Saina Nehwal in 2011 where she succumbed to Wang Yihan in three games. In 2014, India had a representative in men’s singles for the first time when Kidambi Srikanth made it to the season finale following his big win at the China Open and even reached the semi-finals on his debut.
Even last year, India had shuttlers in two categories with Nehwal and Srikanth both making it through again. But it has been an injury-ravaged year for the top Indian players and that has cost India a chance to repeat the act. Srikanth, who began the season by winning the Syed Modi International Grand Prix Gold, was desperately looking to get a chance to do a hat-trick of appearances at the season-ender.
Unfortunately, he sustained an ankle injury at the Japan Open Superseries in September that forced him to wrap up his season early.
With so much difficulty I decided to skip tournaments this year. pic.twitter.com/KkZDZ5XmqZ
— Kidambi Srikanth (@srikidambi) November 21, 2016