New Delhi, Dec 22: It was a disastrous day Sunday for defending champions Parupalli Kashyap and Sayali Gokhale as both lost their respective semifinals at the 78th Senior National Badminton Championships at the Siri Fort Sports Complex here.
Junior national champion Rituparna Das and Thailand Open Grand Prix Gold winner Kidambi Srikanth sent packing the defending women’s and men’s singles champions, respectively, to reach the finals for the first time.
Rituparna came from behind to upset seventh seed Sayali 13-21, 21-13, 21-14 while Srikanth got the better of top seed Kashyap 21-14, 21-19 in 37 minutes.
Rituparna will now face second seed and tournament favourite P.V. Sindhu, who defeated third seed Arundhati Pantawane 21-17, 21-14 in the other semifinal. In men’s, R.M.V. Gurusaidutt, who beat sixth seed B. Sai Praneeth 21-13, 21-19, will face Srikanth.
Kashyap, nursing a partially dislocated shoulder, had to pay the price of being below par. Srikanth had skipped the Macau Open Grand Prix Gold and Tata Open India International Challenge in Mumbai to prepare for the nationals to practice for the nationals which has finally paid off. This is the first time Srikanth has defeated his senior academy mate.
Srikanth was the first to get off the blocks as he opened up an eight point advantage and though Kashyap managed to save two game points, the game had already slipped out of his grasp.
The second game also looked like going in the same direction as Srikanth opened up a 12-8 lead but the experienced Kashyap clawed back. Just when it looked like he could take the match into the decider, Srikanth came up with a brilliant net dribbles to clinch the game and match.
“I am very happy that my decision to drop points I could have earned in Macau is working for me at the nationals. There is one more match to go and I will try my best,” said Srikanth.
In the women’s match, Rituparna announced her arrival as the future of Indian badminton as she outclassed Sayali. Though the Kolkata girl lost the opening game, she began the second game with positive intent and opened a big lead immediately. Thereon it was the Sayali, 26, who had to play catch up in the 53-minute encounter.
Rituparna capitalised on opening that came her way, turning the match in her favour.
“I had nothing to lose so I went out and played my game. I am happy that everything came along well,” said Rituparna, who can become only the second women’s singles player after Sindhu to win the junior and senior title in the same year.
Men’s singles: 5-Kidambi Srikanth bt 1-Parupalli Kashyap 21-14, 21-19; 2-R.M.V. Gurusaidutt bt 6-B. Sai Praneeth 21-13, 21-19.
Women’s singles: 2-P.V. Sindhu bt 3-Arundhati Pantawane 21-17, 21-14; 15-Rituparna Das bt 7-Sayali Gokhale 13-21, 21-13, 21-14.
Men’s doubles: 2-Manu Attri/B. Sumeeth Reddy bt 3-Alwin Francis/Arun Vishnu 18-21, 23-21, 21-18; 1-Pranaav Jerry Chopra/Akshay Dewalkar bt 4-K.T. Rupesh Kumar/Sanave Thomas 19-21, 21-14, 21-18.
Women’s doubles: 2-Jwala Gutta/Ashwini Ponnappa bt 5-Prajakta Sawant/Arathi Sara Sunil 21-8, 21-15; 1-Pradnya Gadre/N. Siki Reddy bt 3-Aparna Balan/P.V. Sindhu 21-16, 21-18.
Mixed doubles: 1-Tarun Kona/Ashwini Ponnappa bt 3-K. Nandagopal/N. Siki Reddy 21-15, 21-14; 2-Arun Vishnu/Aparna Balan bt Chirag Sen/Kuhoo Garg 21-9, 21-11.