Nagpur: When one thinks of nationals in Indian sport, all that comes to mind is an empty stadium, mismanaged event and disinterested fans. As is the case with most sports in India, the nationals are for namesake.
Now let’s imagine badminton nationals filled with star shuttlers like PV Sindhu, Saina Newhal, Kidambi Srikanth and HS Prannoy. The event is going to be a massive hit without any doubt, and will draw swarms of people to the stadium.
That is exactly what transpired at the 82nd Senior National Badminton Championship in Nagpur. And what the crowd witnessed on the last day of the tournament was history in the making.
It was HS Prannoy in the men’s singles getting past the world no. 2 Kidambi Srikanth in three games, to be crowned the national champion for the very first time in his career. The former won the match 21-16, 15-21, 21-7 to script history, and perhaps started a new chapter in Indian badminton. In the women’s singles, it was Saina Nehwal who beat PV Sindhu 21-17, 27-25.
What really worked in Prannoy’s favor was his patience and the will to play a long match against his higher ranked opponent.
“It feels great to beat Srikanth in the final. I think I was really good to beat him. It’s a relief to win the nationals for the first time,” an elated Prannoy said.
One of the deciding factors in the match was the pace of the court and that played its part. Both players had a tough time tackling it. But Prannoy braved it on the occasion and made it work in his favor.
“There’s always a good side and the bad side on the court. I started on the good, and ended on the good. What was important is that I took lead in the first game itself that helped me. And then when I lost the second, I had the confidence to win the third game. Basically I made good use of the conditions,” he added.
“This year has panned out the way I had planned. I have graduated to the quarters and the semis, but now I want to go a step further and aim for the titles. This win will give me that extra push to go a step further.
“Next year is going to be a tough test for me as the opponents will only become stronger. I have my eyes set on a few tournaments like the Commonwealth and the Asian games, and would like to do well there too,” Prannoy concluded.
Nehwal rises up
Saina Nehwal upstaged P.V. Sindhu over two-well contested games to clinch the womens title in the senior national badminton championship while H.S. Prannoy saw off Kidambi Srikanth to win the mens singles here on Wednesday.
The 27-year-old former world number one Saina won 21-17, 27-25 in a contest stretching 54 minutes. ‘I am surprisedwith the way I played today. I moved well and picked Sindhus difficult shots,’ Saina said later.
Saina thanked her support staff and coach Pullela Gopichand for the turnaround in her fortunes. “I am surprised with the way I played today. I moved well and picked Sindhu’s difficult shots. It was a great match and I am glad that I could finish it off in two games. I would like to thank all the support staff and Gopi Sir for working hard on me in the last couple of months.”