Top class badminton returned to India in week 2 of our coverage of the badminton circuit with the recently-concluded Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold held in Lucknow last week.
It was a good week for Indian Badminton as Saina Nehwal successfully defended her crown in women’s singles and was joined on the winners list by Parupalli Kashyap who beat Kidambi Srikanth to take the men’s singles title.
It was a decent show by Indian shuttlers in doubles too with creditable performances by Manu Attri and K Maneesha (mixed doubles finalists) and by Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa (semi finals in the Womens doubles).
Saina Nehwal was adjudged as the best player of the tournament after a winning performance at the Syed Modi Grand Prix. In the summit clash, a formidable opponent awaited Saina – world number seven Carolina Marin. 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 upset the world number ten Viktor Axelsen in a tight semi-final before stunning compatriot and world number five Kidambi Srikanth in straight games in the final. Kashyap had reasons to complain for not getting adequate attention but if he continues this form it is only a matter of time.
India’s top male shuttler, Kidambi Srikanth, struggled to find top form but displayed a lot of fighting spirit to post comeback victories. Given the great talent he is, Srikanth will surely gain from this experience.
PV Sindhu’s campaign ended in the semi-finals of the season’s second Grand Prix Gold event as she went down to World Champion Carolina Marin. This is the second straight semi final for PV Sindhu and this consistent performance by the recent Padma Shri awardee is a good sign for the year.
HS Prannoy lost to 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 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 lost in the last four. 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. There has been a steady progress in the performance of Indian doubles players and it will be interesting to see if our doubles specialists come to the party as well!
In the latest BWF rankings, Kidambi Srikanth holds on to the fifth position. Parupalli Kashyap, after a commendable effort at the Syed Modi Grand Prix, rose three spots to #12. HS Prannoy is 18th, B Sai Praneeth is 36th, Anand Pawar is 42nd while Ajay Jayaram is 49th.
Saina Nehwal continues to be the top-ranked Indian at world number three ranking. PV Sindhu is 10th while PC Thulasi is 35th.