Kidambi Srikanth won his career’s third Grand Prix Gold on Sunday, brushing aside China’s Huang Yuxian in the final of the Syed Modi International Badminton Championship.
Srikanth, the world No 9 and top seed here, had to give his best for 61 minutes for the 21-13, 14-21, 21-14 win over the World No 73, even as a huge crowd flocked the UP Badminton Academy.
Winner of a Super Series Premier and a Super Series event, Srikanth took the game to the opponent from get-go, troubling the Chinese with his volleys and placement.
Srikanth, whose best performance at the event was the runner-up finish last year, already had two GP Gold titles against his name, the Thailand Open in 2013 and Swiss Open in 2015.
It was far from an easy contest though. Srikanth, who was leading 11-7 in the second game, faltered and conceded a series of points to lose it 14-21.
The game spurred Yuxian, the Chinese sending as many as five volleys down the line in the decider to take a 7-4 lead. Srikanth, however, bounced back, leveling the score first at eight and then at 10.
It was a neck and neck battle till 13-all, till an easy lob to centre of the court gave Srikanth the momentum to win five back-to-back points to make it 18-13, before sealing the deal at 21-14 with a powerful smash in the mid court.
“I am delighted to win my maiden title here. Last year, it was quite a close miss for me when I lost to P Kashyap, but this time I was sure of winning here,” said Srikanth, who collected some valuable points in the race to qualify for this year’s Rio Olympics.
“Even after winning the first game, I committed many unforced errors… and had to play an attacking (game) in the third,” said Srikanth. “Right now I am thinking of a berth in the top 16 for the Games, and once I make it, will start thinking of the title.”
The women’s singles final also witnessed some thrilling action, as world No 7 Sung Ji Hyun, of South Korea, came from behind to beat World no 15 Sayaka Sato 12-21, 21-18, 21-18. The match, that lasted an hour and 25 minutes, was the longest of the tournament.
In the men’s doubles, it was a case of what could have been as 36th ranked Indian duo of Pranaav Jerry Chopra and Akshay Dewalkar came within touching distance of their first international title, squandering two match points in the second game, before losing to Malaysian pair of V Shem Goh and Wee Kiong Tan.
Men’s singles (final): 1-K Srikanth (Ind) bt Huang Yuxian (Chn) 21-13, 14-21, 21-14.
Men’s doubles (final): V Shem Goh (Mas)-Wee Kiong Tan (Mas) bt Pranaav Jerry Chopra (Ind)-Akshay Dewalkar (Ind) bt 15-21, 24-22, 21-8.
Women’s singles (final): 2-Sung Ji Hyun (Kor) bt 5-Sayaka Sato (Jpn) 12-21, 21-18, 21-18.
Women’s doubles (final): 2-Jung Kyung Eun (Kor)-Shin Seung Chan (Kor) bt 3-Eefje Muskens (Ned)-Selena Piek (Ned) 21-15, 21-13
Mixed doubles (final): 2-Praveen Jordan (Ina)-Debby Susanto (Ina) bt Puavarunukroh Dechapol (Tha)-Sapsiree Taerattanachai (Tha) 23-25, 21-9, 21-16