PV Sindhu eased to her first title of 2017 at the Syed ModiInternational Grand Prix badminton championships on Sunday, with Sameer Verma emerging victorious in the men’s section.
Rio Olympics silver medalist Sindhu outplayed unseeded Indonesian Gregoria Mariska 21-13, 21-14, claiming her sixth career Grand Prix gold title. Verma had to go some extra miles before beating compatriot and ninth seed Sai Praneet 21-19, 21-16 for his maiden GP gold title.
Sindhu, the overwhelming favourite, raced to 11-4 within minutes in the first game against her 17-year-old rival, hardly having to stretch herself. Mariska, the Asian junior runner-up at Hong Kong in 2016, tried her best against the world No 9 by
playing some eye-catching drops at the net, but to no avail.
The second game turned out to be a repeat of the first as Sindhu, after taking a 11-6 lead, didn’t show any mercy to Mariska, ranked a lowly 120 in the world. The Indonesian had no answer to Sindhu’s perfect lobs and drops as the Indian took the game for her maiden title here.
In a battle of two Gopichand Badminton Academy trainees which lasted 44 minutes, Verma played the waiting game from the start. He kept it tossing it up for Praneet, who took a 4-0 lead in the first game.
Verma, 22, who won silver at the Asian Junior Championships in 2011 at this venue, made full use of his experience. He was trailing 9-15 but caught up with Praneet in style, levelling scores at 19. That was it for Praneet as Sameer’s back-to-back down-the-line smashes then sealed the first game 21-19.
Verma, who stunned world No 3 Jan O Jorgensen in the semi-final before finishing runner-up at the 2016 Hong Kong Open Super Series, was at his best when it mattered at the net. His dribbles to both the corners pegged back Praneet, who was looking for his second GP title after winning the Canada Open last July.
It was a ding dong battle till 14-all in the second, but Verma shifted to top gear, unleashing cross-court smashes to take an 18-14 lead. A desperate Praneet could win just one more point before Verma wrapped up the game to win his maiden Grand Prix title. The win helped Verma make it 2-all against Praneet in career meetings.
Unlike Saturday, Indian badminton’s calendar girl Ashwini Ponnappa suffered a big disappointment, losing in both the women’s and mixed doubles finals. Unseeded Ashwini and N Sikki Reddy lost to top seeds from Denmark, Kamillia Rytter Juhl and Christinna Pedersen, 16-21, 18-21.
In the mixed doubles final, an all-Indian affair, Ashwini pairing with B Sumeeth Reddy went down to second seeds Pranaav Jerry Chopra and Sikki Reddy 20-22, 10-21.