Tata Open: Ruthvika Shivani Gadde wins title, Lakshya Sen goes down fighting
In a tale of contrasting fortunes for two of India’s most promising shuttlers, it was 20-year-old Ruthvika Shivani Gadde who triumphed in the women’s singles category while 16-year-old Lakshya Sen narrowly lost the men’s singles final at the $20, 000 Tata Open India International Challenge in Mumbai on Sunday.
South Asian Games champion Ruthvika beat qualifier, Riya Mukherjee 21-12, 23-21 to win her first international title since the Russian Open in October last year. The highly talented youngster lost six months of the season due to injury. Because of the hiatus, she is now languishing at a lowly 119th in the world rankings.
At the Senior National Championships in November, she took a game off PV Sindhu in the semi-finals before losing in three to finish with a bronze medal. That very much established that she is on her way back to the top echelons of the sport.
Showing flashes of that grit, the former World No. 49 saved four game points in the second game to complete the win at the Tata Open in 40 minutes. This is the third BWF title of her fledgling career.
Sen’s nine-match winning streak ends
In a gripping men’s singles final, World No. 108 Lakshya Sen’s nine-match winning streak came to an end as he went down 21-15, 14-21, 19-21 to the 161st ranked Sitthikom Thammasin in 1 hour 20 minutes. Sen had control of the match in the initial stages as he displayed fantastic netplay and quick thinking to unsettle his unseeded opponent.
However, the Thai could not be kept on the backfoot for long. He had upset the top seeded Sourabh Verma in the second round and started showing flashes of his brilliance right from the start of the second game.
The Indian teenager led 11-10 at the mid-game interval only to see Sitthikom coming back to wrest the momentum from him. As errors started mounting from the Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy product’s racquet, the giant-killing Thai went up to 17-12 before closing out the game.
The decider saw the two shuttlers evenly poised for the most part. Sen had an 11-9 advantage at the mid-game interval after which there was hardly anything to separate the two. The Thai raised his level at 18-18 and came up with a wondrous drop that pretty much dashed whatever hopes that the Almora-born Sen had.
Even though he did save one match point with a superb crosscourt smash, the Thai completed the win on his next match point.
Lakshya was looking to win his second consecutive title in as many weeks after successfully defending his India International Series crown in Hyderabad last week.