Rising Indian doubles duo of Akshay Dewalkar and Pranaav Jerry Chopra stunned World No. 7 Koreans Kim Gi Jung and Kim Sa Rang in an edge-of-the-seat semifinals to seal their maiden Grand Prix Gold final, while K Srikanth also stormed into the men’s singles final at the Syed Modi International.
The World No. 36 Indian combo punched over their weight when they edged out Gi Jung and Sa Rang, the two-time World Championship bronze medallist pair, 25-23 13-21 21-17 in a match that lasted an hour and four minutes.
Kim Sa Rang, who hit the net twice to hand over the match to the Indian pair in the decider, found the loss a bitter pill to swallow and broke all the racquets in his bag in anger after the match. He was also shown the yellow card for throwing his racquet after the defeat.
Earlier, India’s ace shuttler K Srikanth cruised into the finals of USD 120,000 event with a lop-sided straight-game win over Thailand’s Boonsak Ponsana in the semifinals of the men’s singles event at the BBD UP Badminton Academy.
In a completely one-sided contest, Srikanth made mince meat of 11th seed Ponsana 21-14 21-7 in 32 minutes to set up a summit clash with China’s Huang Yuxiang, who edged out fellow compatriot Shi Yuqi 17-21 22-20 21-12 in a thrilling semifinal.
Among others in fray, Commonwealth Games silver medallists Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa failed to break the Korean pair of Jung Kyung Eun and Shin Seung Chan and went down sheepishly 14-21 16-21 in a women’s doubles match that lasted 39 minutes here.
Pranaav and Akshay, who had come into the match with a dismal 0-3 record against their fancied Korean rivals, played out of their skin to set up a summit clash with unseeded Malaysian combination of V Shem Goh and Wee Kiong Tan, who dispatched top seeds and London Olympics silver medallists Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen of Denmark 21-16 21-18 in another semifinal clash.
Pranaav and Akshay fought neck and neck till 13-13 in the first game. The Indian then opened up an 18-16 lead before reaching the game point at 20-19 but what ensued next was a quick exchange of game points as both the rivals engaged in fierce rallies.
Cheered on by the vociferous crowd, it was Pranaav and Akshay who crossed the finishing line in the opening game when Kim G J found the net.
After the break, Koreans continues to rule the roost as the Indian pair had no answers to their fast paced rallies. Finally a buried net shot gave the Koreans the game point and they sealed it with Sa Rang coming up with a smash.
In the decider, India lead 7-5 and despite a periodic onslaught from Korea made to 10-6. But they finally entered the interval at 11-9 when the Koreans hit the net. Akshay lacked the finishing touch in the last few points but he started with an outstretched backhand smash after the break.
The rallies became faster and aggressive after that but the Koreans picked up the gaps well to wrest back the lead at 14-13. However, the lead soon changed hands frequently before the Indian pair grabbed three match points and then wrapped it off in first chance with the Koreans finding the net thrice.
In the second semifinals, Srikanth, who had thrashed the Thai shuttler last week at Malaysia Masters Grand Prix Gold, grabbed an 11-6 lead at the break. He varied the pace by using his lifts and drops and made good use of the smashes to bamboozle Ponsana.
Nothing changed after the interval as Ponsana continued to crumble under pressure with Srikanth keeping him on his toes. The Thai player picked up a point here and there but overall it was a dominant show from the Indian who went to the game point with an accurate half smash. Ponsana saved one but hit wide next as Srikanth earned the bragging rights.
In the second game, Ponsana took a slender 2-0 lead but it vapourised soon as he started to hit wide, long and found the net. Srikanth kept the shuttle at the corners of back court and then caught up Ponsana at the net.
The Thai player also didn’t have any answer to Srikanth sharp and accurate placements as in the break the Indian lead 11-4. Even after the interval, the story remained the same with Ponsana showing no sign of recovery. With his unforced errors piling up, Srikanth zoomed to a massive match point at 20-7, which he pocketed without any delay when Ponsana hit long again.
Thailand’s attempt to clinch a title in women’s singles also got scuttled as both Nitchaon Jindapol and Porntip Buranaprasertsuk bowed out of the event today.
While second seed Sung Ji Hyun of Korea spanked Jindapol 21-16 21-8 to face off fifth seed Sayaka Sato of Japan, who notched up a 21-15 21-17 win over Porntip in another semifinal.