EVEN BEFORE the start of the men's singles final, Chetan Anand had spoken about the pressure on his opponent Arvind Bhat, having lost in the summit clash thrice before. The fourth seed did crack under pressure to hand the 72nd Senior National badminton championship title to Anand on Sunday.
The defending champion saved four game points in the second game and aided by Bhat's unforced errors went on to win his third national crown 21-14, 22-20 in just 35 minutes.
Women's top seed Saina Nehwal and men's doubles top pair Sanave Thomas and Rupesh Kumar retained their respective titles without much ado. Nehwal beat second seed Trupti Murgunde 21-11, 21-10, while Sanave and Rupesh got the better of Akshay Dewalkar and V Diju 21-17, 21-17.
The men's final looked set to go down to the wire after Bhat put behind an indifferent first game to open up a 14-5 lead in the second. But Anand hung on and used the slow speed of the shuttle to frustrate his Bangalore-based opponent.
The move paid off as Bhat started going for expansive smashes to close out the game and in the process allowed his opponent to gain ground. With the score reading 18-16, the world number 45 tried to calm his nerves by using shuttle change to break Anand's rhythm and almost succeeded as he took two quick points to reach game point.
But anxiety got the better of him as he tried to play shots without looking for an opening. He made five unforced errors in the last six points Anand won and it was the end of the road for the 28-year-old's title aspirations.
"I just kept the shuttle in play and that worked," said Anand after the match.
The women's singles final was a completely one-sided affair after Nehwal won the initial exchanges.
Results (all finals)Men's Singles: 3-B Chetan Anand bt 4-Arvind Bhat 21-14, 22-20. Women's Singles: 1-Saina Nehwal bt 2-Trupti Murgunde 21-11, 21-10.
Men's Doubles: Rupesh Kumar /Sanave Thomas bt Akshay Dewalkar /V Diju 21-17, 21-17.