The recently-concluded Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold brought joy to Indian badminton fans with both the men’s and the women’s singles titles going to Indian players. Saina Nehwal who kicked off her new season at the Lucknow event, successfully defended her crown in women’s singles. She was joined on the winners list by the India number two Parupalli Kashyap who stunned top-seeded Kidambi Srikanth to take the men’s singles title.
It was a decent show by Indian shuttlers in doubles too with Manu Attri and K Maneesha reaching the mixed doubles summit clash.
Saina Nehwal captures the title at Syed Modi Grand Prix for the fourth time
Saina Nehwal was rightly adjudged as the best player of the tournament after a fantastic show at the Syed Modi Grand Prix. The Indian shuttle queen began from where she had left last year.
The defending champion kicked off her campaign with some easy victories over Yin Fun Lim, Rituparna Das, Arundhati Pantawane and Nichaon Jindapon to reach the final. In the summit clash, a formidable opponent awaited her – world number seven Carolina Marin. It was a thrilling display from both the ladies in the final as a resilient Saina came back from two match points down to successfully defend her crown. This was her fourth title at Lucknow after 2009, 2010 and 2014.
Parupalli Kashyap began his new season at Malaysia Masters but had crashed out in the pre-quarters. The India number two rebounded in style from that loss by clinching the Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold title the very next week.
The Commonwealth Games champion had a smooth passage into the semis with straight-game victories over Subhankar Dey, Ankit Chhikara, Misha Zilberman and Zi Liang Derek Wong. Tougher challenge awaited him next but a fearless Kashyap came through with flying colours.
Kashyap, then ranked fifteen, upset the world number ten Viktor Axelsen in a tight three-game encounter before stunning compatriot and world number five Kidambi Srikanth in straight games in the final.
India’s top male shuttler, Kidambi Srikanth, however, struggled to find his top form throughout the tournament. But he nevertheless showed a lot of fighting spirit to post comeback victories.
After beating Shreyansh Jaiswal quickly, Srikanth lost a game against each of Kian Meng Tan, Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin, Wei Feng Chong and HS Prannoy but found a way to win each time. In an engrossing final, Srikanth fought hard but went down to fellow Indian Parupalli Kashyap in straight games. Given the great talent he is, Srikanth will probably need a couple more matches to find his feet again.
PV Sindhu’s campaign ended in the semi-finals for the second week in a row. The world number ten who lost in the Malaysia Masters semis, began with supreme confidence at her home event. She beat Ekta Kalia, Jiayuan Chen convincingly before overcoming the challenge of Porntip Buranaprasertsuk in a deciding game. However, she could not continue the momentum and went down to World Champion Carolina Marin in the semis.
The fast-rising HS Prannoy reached a career-high world number eighteen ranking and he produced a performance worthy of his ranking. The 22-year-old beat Oscar Bansal, Srujan Nandaluri, Vladimir Ivanov, RMV Gurusaidutt to lock horns with friend and practice partner Kidambi Srikanth in the semis. Though he went down in three games, he showed a lot of maturity and the hunger needed to perform at the big stage.
The tournament also saw world number thirty-five PC Thulasi reaching the quarter-finals. Among the men, there were some notable performances from Commonwealth Games bronze medallist RMV Gurusaidutt and world number thirty-six B. Sai Praneeth. Both of them reached the last-eight stage.
Manu Attri and K Maneesha kept the Indian flag flying high as they toppled the seventh and the third seeds to reach the mixed doubles final. They eventually lost to the top seeds after putting up a strong fight.
In women’s doubles, second seeds Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa’s challenge ended in the semis. In men’s doubles, there were two teams from India who made it as far as the last-four stage – Manu Attri/B. Sumeeth Reddy and Pranaav Jerry Chopra/Akshay Dewalkar.
After a stellar show from Indian shuttlers in 2014, there’s much to look forward to in 2015. The Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold gave our Indian players a great platform to showcase their skills and get the much-needed practice ahead of the Superseries tournaments that start from March.