ANUP SRIDHAR hit a 'down the line' smash to the left of Chetan Anand only for the latter to come up with a superb backhand flick that left the top seed clueless. The point was an indication that Anand was getting back into his rhythm.
The defending champion was virtually unstoppable thereafter, winning the tie 17-21, 21-17, 21-10 to enter the final of the 72nd Senior National badminton championship at the SAG indoor stadium here on Saturday.
Anand will now face fourth seed Arvind Bhat, who defeated Air India's Anand Pawar 21-16, 21-17 in the other semifinal.
Top seed and defending champion Saina Nehwal will take on second seed Trupti Murgunde in the women's final on Sunday. Nehwal thrashed fifth seed Aparna Balan 21-5, 21-14, while Murgunde got the better of third seed Aditi Mutatkar 21-17, 21-17.
Jwala Gutta bagged a golden double, winning the mixed and women's doubles titles. She first teamed up with V. Diju to beat Akshay Dewalkar and Aparna Balan 21-8, 21-12 and then partnered Shruti Kurien to lift their fifth women's doubles trophy in a row with a 21-13, 21-11 win over Nehwal and Balan.
However, the feature match of the day was undoubtedly the one between Sridhar and Anand, with the former looking set to win it, till Anand came up with a backhand flick to change the course of the match.
Anand played an erratic game and his unforced errors allowed the world championship quarterfinalist to gain an upper hand. The third seed took an early 11-6 lead in the first game, but a flurry of mistakes allowed Sridhar to claw back and take the game.
The trend continued in the second game too with Anand oscillating between extraordinary winners and unexpected errors before the backhand flick, a net dribble and a down the line smash took the tie into the decider.
The final game was a one-sided affair as Anand twice won seven points in a row to wrap up the tie in 45 minutes. He varied the length of his tosses to nullify the advantage of Sridhar's height and outclass the Bangalore-based shuttler and reach his third national final.
Anand later blamed his anxiousness to finish off the match early for the unforced errors. "I was trying to find winners without getting into position. But once I settled down, I was in complete control."
Results: Men's singles (semifinals): Chetan Anand (Pet) bt Anup Sridhar (Pet) 17-21, 21-17, 21-10; Arvind Bhat (Pet) bt Anand Pawar (AI) 21-16, 21-17.
Women's singles (semifinals): Saina Nehwal (Pet) bt 5-Aparna Balan (Pet) 21-5 21-14; Trupti Murgunde (Pet) bt Aditi Mutatkar (Pet) 21-17, 21-17.
Women's doubles (final) Jwala Gutta/Shruti Kurien (Pet) bt Aparna Balan/Saina Nehwal (Pet) 21-13, 21-11.
Mixed doubles (final): Jwala Gutta/V. Diju (Pet) bt Aparna Balan/Akshay Dewalkar (Pet) 21-8 21-12.