The big Indian flop show

Mark of a champion...Indonesia's Rumbaka Hayom Dionysius brought his skills into play to upset the rhythm of his opponent, Avihingsanon Suppanyu (Thailand), in the final.

The Grand Prix provided India's reserve players the best chance to showcase their talent, but they largely disappointed. Over to V. V. Subrahmanyam.

The Indian Open Grand Prix, held in Hyderabad (Dec. 14-19, 2010), was perceived to be a platform for the Indian badminton reserves to prove their mettle.

With India's ace badminton player Saina Nehwal, who recently won the Hong Kong Open, deciding to skip the event due to an injured right-ankle, and second-seeded Maria Febe Kusumastuti (Indonesia) and fourth-seeded Jeanine Cicognini (Switzerland) also pulling out, the focus in the women's section was clearly on the next level of players, who were expected to prove themselves. But most of them disappointed. Even in the men's section, the Indians failed to live up to their expectations. The only exceptions, though, were the ever-improving Pusarla Venkata Sindhu, who lost in the women's singles semifinals, and the flamboyant Parupalli Kashyap, who went out in the last-four stage of the men's singles.

For the record, the top seed, Rumbaka Hayom Dionysius of Indonesia, and Hui Zhou of China won the honours in the men's and women's sections respectively.

Sindhu, 15, daughter of former international volleyball player P. V. Ramana, used her height and reach as she came up with an impressive performance. The big smashes were clearly her forte. Though she played against relatively weaker opponents in the earlier rounds, Sindhu was up to the task against the fifth-seeded Ratnasari Fransiska of Indonesia. And importantly, she did not show any signs of nerves but plenty of promise.

The chief National coach, Pullela Gopi Chand, said that with an improved defence, Sindhu would be a force to reckon with. She, incidentally, trains at the Gopi Chand Academy.

Rumbaka, ranked No. 19 in the World, dished out a thoroughly professional performance to win the singles title. For someone who adores his countryman and temperamental genius Taufik Hidayat, Rumbaka's strong points are his stunning smashes and the amazing ability to play incredible returns from seemingly difficult angles.

Rumbaka's skills stood him in good stead against unseeded Avihingsanon Suppanyu (Thailand), who was playing in his first Grand Prix final. The Thai player, ranked No. 155 in the World, took his fancied rival by surprise in the first game but was visibly tired as the match progressed.

Hui Zhou... women's singles champion.

Rumbaka, with his delicate touch and fluent game at the net, upset the rhythm of Suppanyu just when the latter threatened to pull off an upset. The Indonesian won 14-21, 21-15, 21-12 in 53 minutes.

Suppanyu, 21, however, should be satisfied with his performance — he not only reached the final but also knocked out second-seeded Chetan Anand (21-15, 21-15) in the pre-quarterfinals and seventh-seeded Arvind Bhat (21-18, 21-18) in the quarterfinals.

In the women's singles, Hui Zhou, World No. 52, was a deserving winner as she outsmarted Ratnasari Fransiska 21-13, 21-17 in the final. She clearly enjoyed playing from the mid-court as her opponent repeatedly fed her with high returns. Defending and attacking brilliantly, Zhou clinched the issue in 35 minutes.

There was a surprise in the women's doubles final when unseeded Huan Xia and Tang Jinhua of China shocked third-seeded Ng Ern Hui and Ng Lin Hui of Malaysia.

For India, the scratch combination of Kona Tarun and Ashwini Ponappa was a pleasant surprise as the pair reached the last four stage in the mixed doubles.

The Hyderabad boy showed good spirit and was not nervous playing alongside Ashwini, who, by now, is a familiar name in doubles. She donned the role of a guide and was often seen giving tips to the youngster.

THE RESULTS

Men's singles final: Rumbaka Hayom Dionysius (Indonesia) bt Avihingsanon Suppanyu (Thailand) 14-21, 21-15, 21-12.

Men's doubles final: Ahsan Mohammad & Septano Bona (Indonesia) bt Gan Teik Chai & Tan Shen Bin (Malaysia) 19-21, 21-15, 21-14.

Women's singles final: Hui Zhou (China) bt Ratnasari Fransiska (Indonesia) 21-13, 21-17.

Women's doubles final: Huan Zia & Tang Jinhua (China) bt Ng Hui Ern & Ng Hui Lin (Malaysia) 21-9, 21-19.

Mixed doubles final: Liu Peixuan & Tang Jinhua (China) bt Ng Hui Lin & Gan Chai Teik (Malaysia) 21-17, 21-17.