Srikanth grabs Syed Modi title; Akshay, Pranaav falter

After gate-crashers Akshay Dewalkar and Pranaav Chopra blew away two championship-points in the men doubles final, K. Srikanth soothed the aching hearts of those cheering for an Indian triumph at the BBD UP Badminton Academy.

The top seed overcame mid-match crisis to overpower unseeded Chinese underdog Huang Yuxiang 21-13, 14-21, 21-14 in 61 minutes and added the Syed Modi International title, worth $9,000, to his list of conquests.   -  PTI

After gate-crashers Akshay Dewalkar and Pranaav Chopra blew away two championship-points in the men doubles final, K. Srikanth soothed the aching hearts of those cheering for an Indian triumph at the BBD UP Badminton Academy, here on Sunday.

The top seed overcame mid-match crisis to overpower unseeded Chinese underdog Huang Yuxiang 21-13, 14-21, 21-14 in 61 minutes and added the Syed Modi International title, worth $9,000, to his list of conquests.

Golden boy

Srikanth tasted his third success in Grand Prix Gold finals – following the 2013 Thailand Open and 2015 Swiss Open – after the Indian doubles duo narrowly missed out of claiming their maiden title at this level.

Srikanth, a losing finalist here last year, played the opening game with the authority expected from a World No. 9 when facing a rival ranked 73. Moreover, the fact that Srikanth brushed aside Yuxiang when the two met last week during the Malaysia Masters also helped the Indian’s confidence.

But in the second game, Yuxiang produced an unexpected blitz after trailing at the 7-11 at the mid-game break.

Even in the decider, Yuxiang built on his growing confidence by leading 8-4 before Srikanth changed gears to be up 11-10. But the turning point was Srikanth craftily winning six points on the trot to move 18-13 ahead and eventually win at 14.

Dream run over

Earlier, Akshay and Pranaav raised visions of an unexpected triumph before getting punished by World No. 16 V. Shem Goh and Wee Kiong Tan 14-21, 24-22, 21-8.

For the better part of the 61-minute contest, the Indians gave a good account of themselves. Looking to win for the first time in three meetings, the Akshay-Pranaav duo took the opening game mainly by meeting fire with fire, an element usually missing in country’s doubles combinations.

Both players moved swiftly from defence to offence and vice-versa to keep the rivals guessing. But in the second game, the Malaysians raised the bar when needed.

Trailing 14-17, Goh and Tan forced a game-point but Akshay’s flick helped the Indians make it 20-all. Indians were given the first title-point on a platter when Goh chose not to receive Pranaav’s serve and claimed that it was an illegal serve.

The chair-umpire and service judge ruled in favour of the Indians. An agitated Pranaav even pushed the shuttle into the Malaysiain side of the court.

Once play resumed, the Malaysians saved the match-point. A netted return from Tan gave the Indians a second opportunity to close the contest but in vain. Thereafter, the Malaysian quickly won the next two points, forcing one error each from Akshay and Pranaav to level the match.

In the decider, the wounded-Malaysians took the court with a vengeance and simply destroyed the Indian challenge. Goh and Tan reeled off 10 points to lead 18-5 and eventually slammed the door on the Indians by dropping just three more points.

In the women’s final, favourite Sung Ji Hyun continued her domination of Japan’s Sayaka Sato for the ninth time in 10 career-meetings.

Hyun does the double over Sato

After slow start and loss of the opening game, World No. seven Hyun bounced right back to stop Sato, ranked 15th, 12-21, 21-18, 21-18. When the two met last week in the Malaysia Masters, Hyun won much easily at 21-19, 21-12.

Like in the women’s singles, the mixed doubles and women doubles final saw the second seed emerge as champion.

Final results (Indians unless stated, prefix denotes seeding):

Men singles: 1-K. Srikanth bt Huang Yuxiang (Chn) 21-13, 14-21, 21-14.

Women singles: 2-Sung Ji Hyun (Kor) bt 5-Sayaka Sato (Jpn) 12-21, 21-18, 21-18.

Men doubles: V. Shem Goh and Wee Kiong Tan (Mal) bt Pranaav Chopra and Akshay Dewalkar 14-21, 24-22, 21-8.

Women doubles: 2-Jung Kyung Eun and Shin Seung Chan (Kor) bt 3-Eefje Muskens and Selena Piek (Ned) 21-15, 21-13.

Mixed doubles: 2-Praveen Jordan and Debby Susanto (Ina) bt Puavaranukroh Dechapol and Sapsiree Taerattanchai (Tha) 23-25, 21-9, 21-16.