Syed Modi Open is the second Grand Prix Gold USD 120,000 event of the 2015 season after the Yonex Sunrise Malaysia Masters last week. Like every year, it has Lucknow as its venue, where the tournament is being organized by Uttar Pradesh Badminton Association at Babu Banarsi Das UP Badminton Academy, Gomti Nagar. It is possible that the World badminton community may look at the Syed Modi International Grand Prix Gold Badminton Championship as a watered down event because the Chinese brigade, Japanese and Koreans have chosen to give it a miss. Regardless, the field still had very capable players in all its categories. With just one day remaining, three Indian players have reached the finals. There was no surprise in Olympic bronze medalist Saina Nehwal reaching the final because she had recently won the China Open and her performance in many other events has been commendable. Saina is also the 2009 and 2010 champion in the tournament besides winning in 2014. Therefore her reaching the final cannot be attributed to the absence of other stronger players from Asia. Nearly the same is true of Kidambi Srikanth and Parupalli Kashyap. Srikanth is the winner of the China Open, where he defeated China’s Lin Dan and his stars have been on the rise for a while. Parupalli Kashyap is no mean player either. And yesterday, he reached the final by defeating another extremely talented Denmark’s second seed Viktor Axelsen. Kashyap had to bank on his experience and draw out his last reserve in beating the Dane in three fiercely fought games. PV Sindhu’s semifinal defeat prevented the women’s final being an all-Indian affair. Last week, Sindhu had reached the semifinals of the Malaysian Grand Prix Gold and she was expected to do well against the reigning world champion Carolina Marin of Spain. But Marin played a top game and Sindhu couldn’t get proper foot hold and tamely lost to Marin in two games.
In Sunday’s final, top-seeded Saina Nehwal will take World Champion Carolina Marin of Spain. Saina had a smooth passage to the final and she didn’t have to drop a single game in the competition. In the semifinal yesterday, the 24-year old Saina completely outplayed Thailand’s fourth seeded player Nichaon Jindapon 21-10, 21-16. It could have been an all-Indian final if PV Sindhu had applied herself forcefully against Carolina Marin. In a second round match on January 22, Marin was given an extremely tough time by India’s Tanvi Lad, who took the first game away from Marin before the world champion bounced back to finish a 21-23, 21-19, 21-6. But on Saturday, Marin was too strong for Sindhu in the semifinal, when she beat the Indian comprehensively at 21-13, 21-13.
World No 5 Srikanth also moved through in his end of the draw and entered the final by setting aside a tough challenge from compatriot, H S Prannoy in three games. After losing the first game 12-21, Srikanth came back strongly in the next two games to ensure his place in the final with a 12-21, 21-12, 21-14 finish. Earlier in his third round match on Thursday, Srikanth was given a scare by Malaysia’s Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin before scraping through with a 22-20, 20-22, 21-11 win. He didn’t have much problem in the quarterfinal against another Malaysian Wei Feng Chong, as the opponent retired mid-way through the match. In an all-Indian final on Sunday, Srikanth will have to fight out with P Kashyap, who worked hard in his victory over the second seeded player, Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen 18-21 22-20 21-7. In doubles, India’s challenge ended, when the fifth seeded pair of Manu Attri and Sumeeth Reddy lost to fourth seeds Vladimir Ivanov and Ivan Sozonov of Russia 12-21 18-21.