Former three-time winner Saina Nehwal and reigning champion Sameer Verma are a step away from clinching the men’s and women’s singles titles respectively, reaching the finals of the Syed Modi International World Tour Super 300 here on Saturday.
Commonwealth Games silver medallists Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty and Gold Coast bronze medallists Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy also progressed to the summit clash in men’s doubles and women’s doubles respectively.
Third seed Sameer, who won titles at Swiss and Hyderabad this year, saw off Indonesia’s Chico Aura Dwi Wardoyo 21-13 17-21 21-8 in a 57-minute men’s singles semifinals.
The world number 16 Indian, who needs to win the title to qualify for the year-ending HSBC BWF World Tour Finals, will face sixth seeded Chinese Lu Guangzu in the summit clash. If he wins the title, Sameer will displace Japan’s Kenta Nishimoto at No.8 in the race to Guangzhou rankings.
Saina, seeded second, also prevailed over another Indonesian Ruselli Hartawan 12-21 21-7 21-6 to set up a meeting with China’s Han Yue, who defeated compatriot Li Xuerui 21-15 19-21 21-9 in another semifinal.
Men’s pair of Satwiksairaj and Chirag stunned London Olympics silver medallists Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen of Denmark 22-20 25-23 to secure their maiden place in a Super 300 final. It was their first win over the celebrated Danish pair in five attempts.
The Indian duo, who had won a Super 100 title at Hyderabad, will face second seeded Indonesian combination of Fajar Alfian and Muhammad Rian Ardianto in the men’s doubles finals.
Ashwini and Sikki also made it to their second successive finals here with a 21-18 21-16 win over Russian combination of Ekaterina Bolotova and Alina Davletova in women’s doubles.
Ashwini, however, couldn’t progress to the finals of the mixed doubles event after she and her partner Satwiksairaj went down narrowly 12-21 21-18 19-21 to the Chinese pair of Ou Xuanyi and Feng Xueying in the semifinals early in the day.
The Saina turnaround
World No. 9 Saina found the going tough in the beginning and conceded a 5-2 lead. She tried to claw back but Ruselli managed to hold an 11-7 advantage at the first break and then pocketed the opening game, much to the disappointment of the crowd.
Jolted by the reversal, Saina gathered her wits and dished out a dominating game after an initial 4-4 battle with her Indonesian opponent. The Indian reeled off five points to reach 9-4 and then quickly jumped to 16-6 before roaring back into the contest with another five straight points.
The decider was no different with Saina continuing her domination, moving to 8-2 at one stage before accumulating the next eight points to take the match away from her opponent. She sealed the contest comfortably in the end to make it to her fourth final here.
In the men’s singles, Sameer led 3-0 and 7-4 before Chico managed to hold a slender 11-10 advantage at the interval. The Indian, however, soon blasted off 10 straight points at 10-12 to jump to 20-12 and then sealed the opening game in his favour.
He was comfortably placed at 7-1 in the second game when Chico scripted a stirring recovery to make it 12-11 at one stage. Sameer earned a slender 17-16 lead but the Indonesian managed to bounce back with five points.
In the decider, Sameer seemed to be in a zone of his own as he jumped to an 11-3 lead at the breather and then maintained his stranglehold to comfortably secure his place in the final.