National Championships: Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu, Srikanth Kidambi enter semi-finals; Sai Praneeth out
The 82nd Senior National Badminton Championships witnessed a big upset as the third seed and Singapore Open Superseries winner B Sai Praneeth was sent packing by Subhankar Dey from this Nagpur event on Monday. There was no hiccup for the tournament’s top two singles seeds as all of Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu, Srikanth Kidambi and HS Prannoy made it through to the semi-finals.
2014 champion Sai Praneeth had a one-game lead over the World No. 67 Subhankar Dey but he squandered it after Dey held his nerves to notch up a thrilling 13-21, 21-18, 22-20 win in 1 hour 13 minutes. Dey is enjoying a good phase in his career after having qualified for the Denmark Open Superseries Premier where he bowed out to eventual champion, Srikanth Kidambi in the first round.
The tournament also lost its fourth seed as Ajay Jayaram retired during his quarter-final match while trailing 10-15 to the 2016 runner-up Lakshya Sen. Jayaram, who has resumed competitive play after recovering from a knee injury, faced issues with his heel and decided to call it quits.
Srikanth made to work hard
Lakshya now goes on to face the top seeded Srikanth in a blockbuster semi-final clash on Tuesday. The Denmark Open and French Open champion was made to work hard for his quarter-final victory by World No. 561 Shubham Prajapati. The latter put on a show of determination against an opponent who is ranked 559 places above him in the world rankings and even held two game points in the second game before the world’s second-best player ground out a 21-17, 23-21 win.
Earlier in the pre-quarter-finals, the 2013 winner Srikanth comfortably beat Aryamann Tandon, 21-14, 21-12.
Prannoy prevails over Kashyap
In a mouthwatering quarter-final clash, HS Prannoy and former champion Parupalli Kashyap played a rematch of their US Open final which the former had won in July. The result stayed the same this time too even though the Kerala shuttler had to dig deep for a 22-20, 21-19 win in 39 minutes.
The second seeded Prannoy next takes on Subhankar Dey for a place in the summit clash. He has never won this title.
Earlier, the French Open semi-finalist dropped a game for a 21-7, 20-22, 21-15 win over Lakshya Sen’s brother, Chirag Sen in the pre-quarter-finals.
Saina, Sindhu cruise
Two-time champion Saina Nehwal breezed through each of her two matches on Monday. In the first round, she needed just 27 minutes to see off Vrushali Gummadi, 21-12, 21-10 and then she followed it up with an equally impressive 21-17, 21-10 victory over the junior World No. 14 Aakarshi Kashyap.
Nehwal next meets the fifth seeded Anura Prabhudesai in her quest for a third title at BAI’s flagship event.
The top seeded PV Sindhu had a slightly tougher outing in both her matches. Maharashtrian shuttler, Revati Devasthale put Sindhu to a stern test in the first game of the pre-quarter-final match before the World Championships silver medallist ran away in the second to notch up a 21-16, 21-2 win.
In the last-eight encounter, seventh seed Shriyanshi Pardeshi always managed to peg her illustrious opponent back in the second game and kept it competitive till 15-18. Sindhu then slammed shut the door with a 21-11, 21-17 win to set up a semi-final clash with Ruthvika Shivani Gadde.
Sindhu needs to be wary of Gadde, who beat her at the South Asian Games final in early 2016. The latter has long been touted as the successor to Saina and Sindhu even though injury has curbed her progress of late.
Top doubles stars shine
In men’s doubles, there was no stopping the Denmark Open quarter-finalists Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty. The two did justice to their top billing and triumphed 21-16, 21-18 over experienced campaigners, Chetan Anand and V Diju.
Second seeds Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy too easily prevailed over the combine of Rohan Kapoor and Shivam Sharma. The Lagos International titlists needed 32 minutes to grab a 21-13, 21-14 quarter-final win.
Top seeded women’s doubles pair of N Sikki Reddy and Ashwini Ponnappa was absolutely untroubled in their quarter-final and recorded a commanding 21-10, 21-12 win over Manasi Gadgil and Mrunmayi Saoji. There was no such luck for the second seeds, though. Meghana Jakkampudi and Poorvisha S Ram fell 19-21, 21-17, 19-21 to Sanyogita Ghorpade and Prajakta Sawant.
The Syed Modi International mixed doubles champions, Pranaav Jerry Chopra and Sikki Reddy remain on course to win the Nationals crown for the first time. They breezed past Rohan Kapoor and Kuhoo Garg, 21-14, 21-16 while the second seeds, Ashwini Ponnappa and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy too had a hassle-free 21-14, 21-12 win over Shivam Sharma and Poorvisha S Ram.