Saina, Srikanth rein supreme
Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth rounded up a brilliant Sunday for Indian badminton winning their respective $275,000 India Open Superseries titles at the Siri Fort Sports Complex. Women’s singles top seed Saina Nehwal trumped former world champion Ratchanok Intanon in the final to win 21-16, 21-14 in 49 minutes. Later, 22-year-old Srikanth had a contrasting victory but made sure that he made it a double for Indian badminton by defeating Danish World No.6 Viktor Axelsen 18-21, 21-13, 21-12 in 55 minutes.
With the victory, Saina took a 6-3 lead in career meetings over the World No.8, who won here in 2013. This is the Hyderabadi’s second title of the year after winning the India Grand Prix Gold in January in Lucknow. She had also reached the All England final earlier this month where she lost to reigning World Champion Carolina Marin of Spain.
The 25-year-old Indian was super confident while taking her shots against her Thai opponent, making the third seed run helter-skelter on the court and forcing her to commit errors. In the first game, Saina raced away to a 12-5 lead with supreme agility and speed, something Ratchanok could not match. Though the 20-year-old tried closing the game, Saina remained in command and sealed the game in her favour. The second game was more or less a repetition of the first, seeing the points flow. The top seed once again stamped her authority on Ratchanok, who looked a pale shadow of her prime. Saina, currently ranked World No.2, sealed the deal on her first matchpoint to close a brilliant week when she also assured herself of the World No.1 spot when the Badminton World Federation (BWF) revises its rankings on Thursday.
Later, World No.4 Srikanth did not start well in his men’s singles final against the sixth seed, losing the first game to the Dane. However, the Guntur-born lad showed his true colours when he totally dominated Axelsen to easily win the second game and push the match into the decider. It remained an even contest till the time Axelsen was leading 12-10. But Srikanth suddenly found legs to clinch an incredible 11 successive points to win the game without breaking a sweat.
Final results: Women’s doubles: 1-Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi (Japan) beat 2-Luo Ying/Luo Yu (China) 21-19, 21-19. Mixed doubles: 2-Liu Cheng/Bao Yixin (China) beat 1-Joachim Fischer Nielsen/Christinna Pedersen (Denmark) 21-19, 21-19. Men’s doubles: 3-Chai Biao/Hong Wei (China) beat 7-Mads Conrad-Petersen/Mads Pieler Kolding (Denmark) 21-18, 21-14. Women’s singles: 1-Saina Nehwal (India) beat 3-Ratchanok Intanon (Thailand) 21-16, 21-14. Men’s singles: 2-Kidambi Srikanth (India) beat 6-Viktor Axelsen (Denmark) 18-21, 21-13, 21-12.