PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal won their respective semifinals in contrasting fashion to set up a mouth-watering women's singles summit showdown at the 83rd Yonex-Sunrise Senior National Championship in Guwahati on Saturday. In a repeat of last edition's title clash at Nagpur, the two stalwarts will look to outdo each other and write another chapter in their on-field rivalry. While Sindhu overcame a challenge from Assam's promising 19-year-old Ashmita Chaliha 21-10 22-20 in the first semifinal, Saina got the better of Nagpur qualifier Vaishnavi Bhale, who was part of India's Uber Cup squad last year, 21-15 21-14 to storm into the finals. Saina had the last laugh against Sindhu in the last two encounters at the Nagpur Nationals in 2017 and the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games gold-medal match last year.
While Saina has won the title in 2006, 2007 and 2018, Sindhu clinched the trophy twice, in 2011 and 2013. "It will be just another match and I don't think it will help me for All England, I will just look to focus and give my best," Sindhu said about the final. In men's singles, Lakshya Sen, who is a Asian junior champion and a bronze medallist at the World Junior Championship, secured his second final with a 21-15 21-16 win over former winner and 2014 Commonwealth Games champion Parupalli Kashyap in the second semifinal.
The 17-year-old Sen, from Uttarakhand, had lost the finals of the 81st edition against Sourabh Verma and he would look to settle the scores when he faces the 26-year-old from Dhar in the finals on Saturday. Two-time former champion Sourabh sealed his final spot after beating Mumbai's Kaushal Dharmamer 21-14 21-17 in 44 minutes. Earlier in the day, former champions Saina, Kashyap and Sourabh advanced to the semifinals with contrasting wins. The three-time former champion Saina hardly broke a sweat to get the better of former India no. 1 Neha Pandit of Mumbai 21-10, 21-10 in a lop-sided quarter-final contest. Kashyap, a 2012 winner, prevailed 21-18 21-16 over Bodhit Joshi, who had reached the finals of Iceland International last year.
Both Saina and Kashyap had played their pre-quarterfinal match on Thursday night at the newly-laid wooden court at the TRP indoor stadium after refusing to play at the Assam Badminton Academy courts due to "uneven" surface.
Former world no. 30 Verma, who had clinched Super 100 titles at Russia Open and Dutch Open last year, eked out a hard-fought 21-11 21-23 21-18 triumph over B Sai Praneeth. Verma grabbed seven straight points from 14-17 down in the decider against former Singapore Open champion Sai Praneeth in the quarter-finals.
In the other semi-final matches of the day, Rohan Kapoor and Kuhoo Garg lived up to their reputation as the top seeds in mixed doubles. The world no. 46 pair needed only 32 minutes to dispatch Vighnesh Devlekar and Harika V 21-15, 21-16 to enter the final.
They will take on the unseeded combine of Manu Attri and Maneesha K, who continued their rampage with a fine 21-18, 21-17 win over Shlok Ramchandran and Mithula UK.
In women's doubles, top seeds Meghana Jakkampudi and Poorvisha S Ram continued their quest for the title with a strong 21-13, 21-16 victory over Kuhoo Garg and Anoushka Parikh. They will take on the unseeded Shikha Gautam and Ashwini Bhat K in the summit clash after the latter edged Aparna Balan and Sruthi KP 21-19, 24-22.
Men's doubles second seeds Pranaav Jerry Chopra and Chirag Shetty beat Arun George and Sanyam Shukla 21-17, 21-18 to secure a place in the final.