Saina, Srikanth reach India GP Gold final

Lucknow, Jan 25: Top seed Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth reached the final of the women’s and men’s singles respectively of the $120,000 India Grand Prix Gold at the Babu Banarasi Das Indoor Stadium here Saturday.

This is the World No.9′s first final since the French Open Super Series in October 2012 where she lost the summit clash to Japan’s Minatsu Mitani. Saina ousted China’s sixth seed Xuan Deng 21-14, 17-21, 21-19 in an hour and 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, sixth seed Kidambi Srikanth also had to fight it out in the men’s singles semi-final against friend and seventh seed H.S. Prannoy, beating him 21-18, 22-20 in 50 minutes.

In the final, the reigning national champion will face Chinese ninth seed Xue Song, who made short work of India’s Aditya Prakash, by beating him 21-10, 21-7 in 35 minutes.

Saina won the first game with relative ease but the Chinese player showed great determination to claw back from 10-14 down to take a 17-15 lead in the second. Saina levelled the scores at 17-all but Xuan won the next four points to take the game and push the contest into a decider.

Saina was in big trouble early on in the third game with the World No.49 taking a 7-0 lead.

But the Indian showed pure grit to draw parity at 8-all. Xuan once again opened up a big lead (13-8) and it appeared as if an upset was on the cards. But Saina slowly but surely made it 17-all before taking the lead for the first time in the third game (18-17).

After sharing a point each, Saina made sure that she won the next two points and end the marathon match in her favour.

An emotional Saina was almost on the verge of tears as she walked back to the dressing room after acknowledging the support of the home crowd, who had turned up in huge numbers to cheer her.