Kharkiv International 2017: Nandagopal Kidambi wins double crown, three Indians with runners-up finishes
Doubles shuttler Nandagopal Kidambi won two titles as the Indian contingent finished on a high at the $20, 000 FZ Forza Kharkiv International 2017 held at Kharkiv, Ukraine on Sunday. In both the men’s doubles and the mixed doubles disciplines at this International Challenge level event, the elder brother of the Indian men’s singles No. 1 Srikanth Kidambi was a part of the pair that upset the respective top seeds.
The win in men’s doubles proved to be much tougher. He and Rohan Kapoor needed 55 minutes to dismiss the challenge of the all-Indian top seeds Tarun Kona and Francis Alwin, 18-21, 24-22, 21-18.
In mixed doubles, Nandagopal had an easier outing. He and Mahima Aggarwal, seeded third, stunned No. 1 seeds Saurabh Sharma and Anoushka Parikh, 21-14, 21-15 in just 30 minutes.
Nandagopal’s first international title of any kind since 2013
For the mixed doubles team of Nandagopal and Aggarwal, this was a much-needed victory following their defeat in the final of the Malaysia International Series in July. This is the first time the 25-year-old Nandagopal got to have silverware in any international tournament since his men’s doubles title win alongside V Diju at the Bahrain International Series in October, 2013.
The Indian contingent was aiming to win the women’s singles title as well but the third seeded Sri Krishna Priya Kudaravalli was upset by the seventh seed Natalya Voytsekh. The Ukrainian edged the 19-year-old Indian 18-21, 21-16, 23-21 in a tight battle that lasted an hour.
Kudaravalli, ranked 68th, had dropped only one game en route to the summit clash. In the semi-finals, she was stretched to the decider by the fifth seed Mariya Mitsova of Bulgaria where she managed to pull through, 6-21, 21-12, 21-14.
In the final, she could not repeat that feat against the 106th ranked Voytsekh, who held her nerves for the win.
In men’s singles, India’s best performance has been a semi-final appearance through Mithun Manjunath. The 19-year-old, who is ranked 214th, lost to the third seed Lee Cheuk Yiu 20-22, 21-9, 21-6. The Hong Kong shuttler eventually finished as runner-up to the fourth seed Toby Penty.
In the women’s doubles section, the Indian duo of Meghana Jakkampudi and Poorvisha S Ram were the top seeds but their run was halted in the quarter-finals by the unseeded Ukrainian combine of Maria Ulitina and Natalya Voytsekh, 21-17, 19-21, 21-11.