World no.1 Carolina Marin of Spain exhibited her shuttling prowess on first two days of 2017 Vodafone Premier Badminton League. On Sunday, the packed crowd at Hyderabad’s Gachibowli indoor stadium was first treated to a colorful opening ceremony before the business of the day could begin. Playing for the hosts Hyderabad Hunters soon after, the World and Olympic champion Marin defeated Chennai Smashers’ top star PV Sindhu in a spirited performance. Next day, when Hyderabad Hunters took on Lucknow’s Awadhe Warriors, Marin ran through the defenses of former world no.1 Saina Nehwal beating the Indian in straight games. The first tie was a thriller with the Hunters getting the better of Smashers 4-3. The second tie between Bengaluru Blasters and defending champions Delhi Acers was equally exciting. It went Bengaluru’s way with the same score of 4-3, despite heroics from Acers’ Danish star Jan O Jorgensen. Next day also at Hyderabad, despite Saina Nehwal losing to Marin, Lucknow’s Awadhe Warriors thumped the hosts 5-0. From Tuesday, the scene will shift to Mumbai, where first tie features Bengaluru Blasters and Chennai Smashers.
Hyderabad Hunters had a great start to 2017 Vodafone Premier Badminton League. The thriller began with an anticipated repeat of Rio Olympic gold medal match between Carolina Marin and PV Sindhu. Just over two weeks ago, Sindhu had beaten Marin in BWF World Super-Series at Dubai and she would have liked to repeat that performance. But on Sunday, Sindhu faced a different Marin, who led from the start in the first game. From 6-4 at halfway mark, Marin easily made it 11-8 feasting on Sindhu’s unforced errors. It was a confusing proposition for Hyderabad fans, who didn’t know whom to support. Sindhu has already become a national icon, while Marin was the home favorite. But once they realized the home team player had won the first game, they roared their approval. The second game was a hard-fought affair with Sindhu finding her touch after Marin began with a 3-0 lead. The Chennai star, reeled off several consecutive points to lead 6-5 at break. But Marin wouldn’t give in so easily. She came roaring back and leveled the score at 12-12. However, two errors from the Spaniard allowed Sindhu to force the decider. However, that was as far as Sindhu could go because Marin changed the course in third game to win at 11-8, 12-14, 11-2.
Despite Chennai suffering Sindhu’s loss, they came back into the tie, when Tommy Sugiarto beat Sai Praneeth 11-6, 11-8 and Chris and Gabby Adcock won their mixed doubles Trump Match 11-7, 11-9 against Hunters’ Satwik Sairaj/Hoi Wah Chau. After Chennai opened a 3-1 lead, Hunters made a sensational comeback with Rajiv Ouseph defeating Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk 6-11, 11-8, 11-6 and Hyderabad’s tactical Trump-match pair Tan Boon Heong/Tan Wee Kiong beating Mads Pieter Kolding/B Sumeeth Reddy 11-7, 11-8. In the end, Hunters claimed the tie 4-3.
In the second tie on opening day, Bengaluru Blasters shocked defending champions Delhi Acers also with a 4-3 victory. The tie began with a clash between two famous Danes, when Blasters’ Viktor Axelsen played with his more fancied compatriot Delhi’s Jan O Jorgensen. In the closely-fought match, Jorgensen defeated Axelsen 11-9, 11-9 to put Delhi ahead. Next in the mixed doubles match, Blasters’ Ko Sung-Hyun/Sikki Reddy outplayed Delhi’s Jwala Gutta/Vladimir Ivanov 11-6, 11-6 and the tie stood level at 1-1. The third men’s singles match between Bengaluru’s Sourabh Varma and Delhi’s Son Wan Ho was a Trump-Match for Delhi and despite Sourabh fighting hard; he couldn’t prevent Son Wan Ho from winning at 13-15, 11-9, 11-6. Delhi now led 3-1 but in fourth match, Bengaluru reduced the deficit to 3-2, when their men’s doubles pair of Sung Hyun Ko/Yeon Seong Yoo defeated Delhi’s Vladimir Ivanov/Ivan Suzonov 10-12, 11-3, 11-6. Women’s singles was the Trump-Match for Blasters’ Cheung Ngan Yi, who defeated Delhi’s Tanvi Lad 11-9, 6-11, 11-2 for a thrilling 4-3 win for Bengaluru Blasters.
On second day at Hyderabad, the most awaited match was between Hunters’ Carolina Marin and Awadhe Warriors’ Saina Nehwal. After Saina’s stiff resistance in first game, Marin proved too good in her 15-14, 11-5 victory. Earlier, in men’s singles, Awadhe’s Vincent Wong Wing Ki had beaten B Sai Praneeth 11-13, 11-6, 13-11 and Saina’s loss leveled the tie at 1-1. In mixed doubles, Awadhe’s Savitree Amitrapti/Bodin Isara beat Chau Hoi Wah/Satwik Sai Raj 11-9, 12-10; In men’s singles, Kidambi Srikanth defeated Hyderabad’s Rajiv Ouseph 11-13, 11-7, 13-11 and when Goh W Shem/Markis Kido beat Hunters’ men’s doubles Trump-Match team of Tan Boon Heong/Tan Wee Kiong 7-11, 11-8, 13-11, Awadhe finished with a thumping 5-0 win over the hosts.