Dronavalli Harika has this habit of exceeding expectations. Like she did last year at the inaugural World online blitz championship, which she won.

Before that, she had reached the semifinals of the World championship twice. She is one player who often does better than her seeding. She did it yet again on Thursday, as she won her maiden Grand Prix title at Chengdu. “My aim when I came here was to win this tournament,” Harika told Sportstar from China, shortly after receiving the winner’s trophy. “This is the most satisfying performance of my career after those two World championships.”

She, however, was disappointed that she could only get a draw in her final-round encounter against Olga Girya. “I should have done better, though I have not analysed the game yet,” said the 25-year-old. “I don’t want to be too harsh on myself though, as I was feeling a bit tired.”

That draw, however, proved enough as Koneru Humpy defeated Antoaneta Stefanova, leaving Harika the champion on a tie-breaker. It was Harika’s victory over Humpy in the seventh round that proved crucial in the end.

“Yes, that was my best game in this tournament,” she said. “I also enjoyed my win against Lela Javakhishvili in the second round.”

Harika said she was looking forward to another good show in the last leg of the Grand Prix, to be held in Russia in October. “The victory here has given men an excellent opportunity to do well overall in the Grand Prix, especially after faring well in the last leg,” she said. “I am confident that I could do well in Russia.”