Saina, Sridhar through to Mahajan badminton finals

By IANS

New Delhi : Top seeds Saina Nehwal and Anup Sridhar, both from Petroleum, overcame stiff challenges from their opponents en route to the finals of women’s and men’s categories in the first Pramod Mahajan Badminton tournament at the Siri Fort Sports Complex here Saturday.


Support TwoCircles

Coming from a game down, Saina had to battle hard against third seed Aditi Mutatkar of Maharashtra to register a 18-21, 21-13, 21-12 win, while Sridhar prevailed over fellow Bangalorean and fifth seed Arvind Bhatt 21-19, 21-16.

In the finals, Saina will face unseeded Sayali Gokhale of Air India, who defeated Railway’s Dhanya Nair 18-21, 21-13, 21-12 in the other semi-final. In the men’s title clash, Sridhar will face seventh seed J.B.S. Vidyadhar, who beat second seed P. Kashyap 22-20, 16-21, 21-15.

In a pulsating first semi-final in the women’s section, national champion Saina started the match on a scratchy note losing her first game in the tournament. However, she came back strongly in the second and third to book a berth in the final, though her opponent looked very promising.

The contest was so tough that even the top ranked women’ s player had to admit that Aditi gave her a run for her money.

“It wasn’t an easy match. Aditi played very well. I was little relaxed in the first set. That proved costly, but eventually I won, which matters most,” Saina said after the match.

Though Aditi lost the match, there was no trace of disappointment on her face.

“After the first set win, I was playing in zones in the second and third. But one thing I must say I was better than her in game and stroke wise today. She edged me out in experience, but the good thing is that I have improved,” a confident Aditi said after the match.

“When I play Saina it brings out the best in me because she pushes and even I push her. But at the end of the day she played better badminton.

“This tournament is a good build up for this month’s nationals,” Aditi said.

Meanwhile, in the men’s section, national champion Sridhar too had some scary moments against Bhatt, who seemed in a mood to register the biggest upset of the tournament with his powerful cross court smashes in the initial phases of the first set.

Bhatt, who was out of the court much of last year due to an ankle injury, cruised to 10-2 in the opening game, but could not last long because of his one dimensional game. He tried too many smashes, which cost him dear. Sridhar was calm and composed and concentrated more on rallies.

Bhatt’s soon ran out of steam and was now and then taking time out to gather his breath.

In the second game, it was neck and neck between the two players till 15 when Sridhar pounced upon Bhatt’s lack of stamina to power his way into the final.

After the match, fifth seed Bhatt admitted that his impatient nature was the cause for his downfall Saturday.

“I was little impatient today. I was going for the smashes now and then as it worked for me in the initial stages. However, after losing the first set I changed my strategy and restricted myself from going for the kill. Instead I was more concentrating on rallies,” he said.

SUPPORT TWOCIRCLES HELP SUPPORT INDEPENDENT AND NON-PROFIT MEDIA. DONATE HERE