LUCKNOW: Olympic silver medalist PV Sindhu and national champion Sameer Verma began the new season on a resounding note by winning the women’s and men’s singles crowns respectively at the $120,000 Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold badminton tournament here on January 29.
In fact, India scooped up three titles out of the five events in the tournament.
Top seed Sindhu, who has been in rampaging form last season, brushed aside Indonesia’s Gregoria Mariska in the summit clash, while Sameer, who had reached the finals of Hong Kong Super Series, defeated compatriot B. Sai Praneeth 21-19, 21-16 in a 44-minute final.
Second seeds Pranaav Jerry Chopra and N. Sikki Reddy, who had won Grand Prix titles at Brazil and Russia, also lay claim to their maiden GPG title in mixed doubles after beating compatriots Ashwini Ponnappa and B Sumeeth Reddy, seventh seeds, 22-20, 21-10 in the finals.
In the women’s singles final, Sindhu didn’t break any sweat as she took just 30 minutes to outplay Mariska for her maiden Syed Modi title. She had lost the finals to former World No. 1 Saina Nehwal in 2014 edition.
The girl from Hyderabad led right from the start and never allowed her younger opponent to pose any threat. She entered the break at 11-5 and 11-6 in the first and second games respectively and never looked back.
In the end, it was a couple of returns going to net from the Indonesian which sealed the issue for Sindhu.
Sameer, on the other hand, fought back from 5-11 down in both the games to outwit fellow Indian Praneeth, who looked slightly in discomfort with his right shoulder and also committed too many unforced errors to hand over the match, despite earning early leads.
In the first game, Sameer erased a deficit of 10-15 to eventually edge out Praneeth, who succumbed to his rivals brilliant smashes and accurate placements.
In the second game, Praneeth once again zoomed to a 6-3 lead after Sameer kept hitting the shuttle out.
The Madhya Pradesh shuttler tried to gather a couple of points at his opponent’s forecourt but he committed a few unforced errors and Praneeth also dominated the net play to move into the break at 11-5 advantage.
However, just like in the opening game, Sameer once again scripted a comeback and levelled the scores when his rival hit wide. He then produced a cross court smash to take the lead.
Praneeth seemed off colour after that as his shots went wide and long and also he failed to retrieve some of the returns of Sameer, who sealed the match with a cross court smash.
“My game plan was not working in the first game but I changed my strategy after the break to move ahead. We know each other’s game since we train together at Gopichand academy. He also had some issues with his shoulder. I am just happy I could win my first GPG title,” Sameer said.
Reigning Olympic silver medallists and top seeds, Kamilla Rytter Juhl and Christinna Pedersen from Denmark knocked out India’s newly formed pair of Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy 21-16, 21-18 in a 38-minute final to clinch the women’s doubles crown.
Top seeds Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen, the silver medallist at London Olympics, meanwhile, clinched the men’s doubles title after defeating Chinese Taipei’s Lu Ching Yao and Yang Po Han, seeded eighth, 21-14, 21-15 in another one-sided summit clash.