The 82nd Senior National Badminton Championships at Nagpur got the two singles finals that everybody was waiting for. Former champions Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu will vie for the women’s singles title while 2013 winner Srikanth Kidambi will battle it out with second seed HS Prannoy in men’s singles.
Top seed Sindhu’s semi-final clash with South Asian Games champion Ruthvika Shivani Gadde was the biggest highlight of Tuesday. Gadde had beaten her illustrious compatriot on her way to clinching the South Asian Games gold in early 2016 and she seemed to be heading for a repeat of that result as she began the last-four encounter with a bang.
With her ruthless attacking game, she kept Sindhu on the backfoot for a large part of the opener before wrapping it up, 21-17. The World No. 2 rebounded in style in the second game as Gadde became reckless and started peppering the court with unforced errors.
The youngster played brilliantly in patches but it was ultimately not enough to overhaul Sindhu, who remained very patient till the end and notched up a 17-21, 21-15, 21-11 win in 50 minutes.
The World Championships silver medallist clinched the title in 2011 and 2013 before she started dominating the international circuit.
She will take on fellow two-time champion, Saina Nehwal, whose two titles came in back-to-back years in 2006 and 2007. The World No. 11 did not have much hassle in her semi-final and was able to pummel the fifth seeded Anura Prabhudesai for an effortless 21-11, 21-10 win.
Repeat of French Open semi-final in men’s singles final
On the men’s side, former junior World No. 1 Lakshya Sen displayed his repertoire of shots but the top seeded Srikanth Kidambi’s experience was enough to help him grab a 21-16, 21-18 win. The 16-year-old went on a run of six straight points in the second game to lead the world’s second-best player, 14-12 at one stage before the French Open champion doused his fire.
The in-form shuttler now meets his training partner, HS Prannoy in a repeat of the enthralling semi-final that they played in Paris just last month. The Kerala shuttler, who had never won the Nationals, beat the giant-killer, Subhankar Dey, 21-14, 21-17.
Three doubles players aiming for double crown
The top two seeds also progressed in the men’s and the mixed doubles sections. 17-year-old Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, N Sikki Reddy and veteran Ashwini Ponnappa will be aiming for double glory after reaching two finals.
In men’s doubles semi-finals, Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty prevailed over Arjun MR and Shlok Ramchandran, 21-15, 21-13 while Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy emerged 21-18, 21-18 winners over Alwin Francis and Nandagopal Kidambi.
Rankireddy did not have to spend much time on the court in his mixed doubles semi-final. He and Ashwini Ponnappa, who are seeded second, advanced to the final when the duo of Sanyam Shukla and Sanyogita Ghorpade retired at 4-4.
In contrast, the top seeds and Syed Modi International champions, Pranaav Jerry Chopra and Sikki Reddy had to work hard for their 21-16, 22-24, 21-8 win over Alwin Francis and Aparna Balan.
The top seeded women’s doubles combine of Reddy and Ponnappa was superb in their 21-10, 21-14 rout of Aparna Balan and Sruthi KP that needed just 30 minutes. They will face Ghorpade and Prajakta Sawant, who showed a lot of resilience in their 18-21, 21-12, 21-16 comeback win over Rutaparna Panda and Mithula UK.