Saina Nehwal celebrated her newly acquired status as world’s no.1 women’s badminton player by winning the title match of 2015 Yonex Sunrise India Open. In the final played at New Delhi’s Siri Fort Sports Complex, Saina kept an upper hand in her match against Thailand’s no.3 seed Ratchanok Intanon and walked away as a 21-16, 21-14 winner. A little later, world no.4 Kidambi Srikanth brought added extra cheers to the Indian badminton community by taking the men’s crown, when he defeated Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen in three games. It was the second time since the China Open that Saina and Srikanth have taken the top double honors in the same tournament. Though China couldn’t figure in women and men’s singles finals, they continued to maintain their stranglehold in other categories. The Chinese badminton machine is not easy to shrug off as they still bagged two titles and finished runners-up in the other. In Women’s doubles, Chinese pair of Luo Ying/Luo Yu finished runners-up to the top-seeded Japanese combo of Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi. But China took the men’s and mixed doubles titles at India Super-series. In men’s doubles, China’s third seeded pair of Chai Biao/Hong Wei defeated no. 7 seeds Mads Conrad-Petersen/Mads Pieler Kolding of Denmark while in the mixed doubles, second seeded Chinese pair of Liu Cheng/Bao Yixin beat Joachim Fischer-Nielsen/Christinna Pedersen of Denmark.
Sunday was a great day for Indian badminton. The newly crowned queen of badminton, Saina Nehwal played against Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon for the women’s singles title. Backed by the vociferous Siri Fort Crowd, Saina showed her class in the match against the deceptive Intanon. The London Olympic bronze medalist played like a champion from the first point to the last and dictated terms to the no.3 seed from Thailand. Coming into the match with a 5-3 overall advantage over her rival, Saina was not cowed down as she was prepared for everything that Intanon could throw at her. Saina had better movements and her powerfully executed smashes wore down Intanon. The Thai woman appeared to be suffering from the strains of her marathon semifinal match against Spain’s Carolina Marin and it slowed her movements. She was also affected by the entire stadium backing the Indian. Saina opened an 11-5 first game lead and never looked back despite Intanon being able to bridge the gap to 10-12. Saina allowed her opponent only two more points as she raced to a 20-12 lead. But Intanon showed her class briefly by mounting a late charge and scoring 4 more points but Saina eventually took the first game 21-16. In the second game, Saina began with a 5-0 lead and though Intanon tried her deception, the Indian still led 11-6 at the break. In the late stages, Intanon challenged Saina with her clever placements but she couldn’t prevent the Indian to build a 17-11 lead. The Thai woman further reduced the gap to 18-14 but that was as far as she would go. Saina benefitted from Intanon hitting wide on a few occasions and finally closed the match with a creditable 21-16, 21-14 victory.
In the men’s single final that followed immediately, Kidambi Srikanth began by losing the first game at 18-21 against Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen. But the Indian bounced back smartly and took the second game at 21-13. The third game was the key and when Axelsen raced to a 12-10 lead in the third game, Srikanth looked in trouble. But suddenly Srikanth found his form and froze Axelsen in his tracks. He first leveled the score at 12-12 and then reeled out 9 straight points to settle the match. To the great delight of the Siri Fort crowd, Srikanth emerged victorious at 18-21, 21-13, 21-12. With both Saina and Srikanth winning the India Open Super-series, Indian fans couldn’t have had a better day for badminton.
Before the women and men’ single matches, three doubles title matches had already been concluded in the Yonex Sunrise India Open Super-series. In Women’s doubles, Chinese pair of Luo Ying/Luo Yu finished runners-up to top-seeded Japanese combo of Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi at 19-21, 19-21.. But China took the men’s and mixed doubles titles at India Super-series. In men’s doubles, China’s third seeded pair of Chai Biao/Hong Wei defeated no. 7 seeds Mads Conrad-Petersen/Mads Pieler Kolding of Denmark 21-18, 21-14 while in mixed doubles second seeded Chinese pair of Liu Cheng/Bao Yixin defeated Joachim Fischer-Nielsen/ Christinna Pedersen of Denmark 21-19, 21-19.
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