PV Sindhu, seeded No.1, ousted Indonesia’s Fitriani to enter the women’s singles final at the Syed Modi International Badminton Championships for yet another time in Lucknow on Saturday. She took just 38 minutes to move into the final, winning 21-11, 21-19 at the Babu Banarasi Das Indoor Stadium and will now take on another Indonesian, Gregoria Mariska, for her maiden title at the Grand Prix Gold event on Sunday.
Sindhu, who had clinched her maiden Super Series Premier title at China Open and reached the finals at Hong Kong last year, defeated fourth seed Fitriani. The 21-year-old from Hyderabad will face Mariska in the summit clash. The 17-year-old Mariska, who is a two-time silver medallist at World Junior Championships, shocked higher-ranked compatriot Hanna Ramadini, seeded sixth, 21-19 21-14 in another match.
Meanwhile, defending men’s singles champion Kidambi Srikanth suffered a shock defeat. Ninth seed B Sai Praneeth, who had clinched the Canada Open Grand Prix last year, knocked out third seed Srikanth 15-21, 21-10, 21-17 in 59 minutes at the stadium, which was thronged by thousands of spectators.
Among other Indians, Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy also dished out some gritty performances to guide India to the finals of the women’s and mixed doubles events in the $120,000 tournament.
Playing only their second tournament together, Ashwini and B Sumeeth Reddy scored a stunning 19-21 21-18 21-18 win over London Olympics bronze medallists and top seeds Joachim Fischer Nielsen and Christinna Pedersen from Denmark in the second semifinals.
Earlier, Ashwini and Sikki reached their maiden finals of a Grand Prix Gold event after seeing off fellow Indian combination of Sanjana Santosh and Arathi Sara Sunil 18-21 21-12 21-13 in a hard-fought women’s doubles contest.
The 23-year-old Sikki then combined with her mixed doubles partner Pranaav Jerry Chopra to edge out fifth seeded Danish pair of Mathias Christiansen and Sara Thygesen 21-18 21-13 in the first semifinal match.
Ashwini, who had clinched the bronze at 2011 World Championship and gold at 2010 Commonwealth Games alongwith women’s doubles partner Jwala Gutta, had paired up with Sikki late last year after ending her earlier partnership following the Rio Olympics.
Ashwini and Sikki, who had reached the finals at Welsh International last month, will now lock horns with top seeds and World No 2 Kamilla Rytter Juhl and Christinna Pedersen. The Rio Olympics silver medallist pair from Denmark knocked out third seeded Malaysians Yin Loo Lim and Yap Cheng Wen 23-21 21-14 in another semifinals.
India are thus assured of the mixed doubles crown as Sikki and Pranaav, seeded second, who won two Grand Prix tournaments at Brazil and Russia last year, will now face seventh seeded compatriots Ashwini and Sumeeth in the finals.
India were also assured of the men’s singles title after Praneeth set up a summit clash with Hong Kong Super Series finalist and National champion Sameer, seeded 8th, who produced better court coverage and placement to outwit an erratic Harsheel Dani, 15th seed, 21-15 21-11 in another semifinals match.
In the men’s doubles, eighth seeds Lu Ching Yao and Yang Po Han of Chinese Taipei took out Indonesian seventh seeded combo of Berry Angriawan and Hardianto Hardianto 21-16 21-17 to reach the finals.
Top seeds Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen of Denmark also staved off a spirited challenge from the fourth seeded Indonesian duo of Fajar Alfian and Muhammad Rian Ardianto 11-21 21-17 21-19 in a match that lasted for an hour and four minutes.
The day also saw BAI president Akhilesh Das Gupta announce a cash prize of Rs 50 lakhs and Rs 25 lakhs to Sindhu and chief national coach P Gopichand respectively, and Rs 10 lakh for Srikanth.