India Open: Ratchanok, Momota triumph in style

The Thai girl took apart an off-colour Xuerui 21-17, 21-18 in just 42 minutes in the women's final. In the men's final, Momota proved too good for Axelsen in both attack and defence as he wrapped up the match 21-15, 21-18.

Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand in action during the women's final in New Delhi on Sunday.   -  The Hindu

What Saina Nehwal could not accomplish against Olympic champion Li Xuerui, former World champion Ratchanok Intanon did with authority. Much like the Indian, the Thai girl dominated the Chinese but finished the job to regain the title in the $300,000 India Open here on Sunday.

On a day when none of the five finals stretched to the deciding game, the 2013 winner took apart an off-colour Xuerui 21-17, 21-18 in just 42 minutes. What the scoreline fails to reflect is the manner in which the diminutive Thai girl controlled the rallies and dominated the second game against the current World No. 2.

Second successive win over Xuerui

This was World No. 5 Ratchanok’s second successive victory, and fourth in all, against seven losses to Xuerui, champion here in 2012. This was also Ratchanok’s second title of the year to go with the Thailand Masters.

The men’s final, a repeat clash of the year-ending BWF Super Series Finals in 2015, produced an expected winner in Japan’s Kento Momota, seeded two.

Momoto grabs first title of the year

Known to thrive on explosive speed and unpredictably quick on-court movements, Momota once again conquered the taller Dane Viktor Axelsen 21-15, 21-18 in 45 minutes. The triumph, sixth in seven meetings against Axelsen, gave Momota his first title of the year.

Attacking play

Ratchanok, who dropped just one game to Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu Ying on her way to the title-clash, carried on with her awesome display. Against a sluggish Xuerui, whose gruelling three-game battles over the past two days seem to have taken their toll on her energies, Ratchanok attacked more than she usually does and reaped rich benefits.

In fact, the Chinese was ahead only thrice – at 1-0, 7-6, 8-7 – in the opening game and never thereafter. Such was the domination of Ratchanok that she made the strongest Chinese lady in the game err on both flanks. Several times, Xuerui failed to control the returns in dealing with the Thai girl’s powerful smashes.

In the second game, Ratchanok opened up a 9-2 lead and kept up the pressure. Though Xuerui cut down the lead and even managed to save two match-points after trailing 16-20, Ratchanok settled the issue with a powerful smash.

The men’s singles went on predictable lines. Momota proved too good for Axelsen in both attack and defence as he established a 16-7 lead in the opening game. In the second, the 17-9 lead for Japanese almost shut the door on the Dane. Though Axelsen fought hard to bridge the gap to 17-15, Momota stayed in control by holding five match-points. Axelsen saved three of them but could do no more.

Earlier, in the three doubles finals, Chinese took the mixed crown after Indonesian men and Japanese women were assured of the titles at the expense of their compatriots.

Final results (prefix denotes seeding):

Men’s singles: 2-Kento Momota (Jpn) bt 5-Viktor Axelsen (Den) 21-15, 21-18.

Women’s singles: 4-Ratchanok Intanon (Tha) bt Li Xuerui (Chn) 21-17, 21-18.

Men’s doubles: Gideon Markus Fernaldi and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamulio (Ina) bt 7-Angga Pratama and Ricky Karanda Suwardi (Ina) 21-17, 21-13.

Women’s doubles: 3-Misaki Matsutono and Ayaka Takahashi (Jpn) bt Naoko Fukuman and Kurumi Yonao (Jpn) 21-18, 21-18.

Mixed doubles: 7-Lu Kai and Huang Yaqiong (Chn) bt Riky Widianto and Puspita Richi Dili (Ina) 21-13, 21-16.