P. Kashyap realised his much-cherished dream of winning the National championship after beating fellow wild card Ajay Jayaram in just 45 minutes.
Kashyap and Ajay, ranked 20th and 25th in the world, could not, however, produce the quality expected from their much-anticipated clash here on Wednesday. Kashyap’s 21-18, 21-17 triumph earned him Rs. 81,000.
In contrast, the women’s singles final was far more engrossing with Sayali Gokhale regaining the title after three editions following her 21-15, 15-21, 21-15 win over defending champion P.V. Sindhu in 75 minutes.
To Sindhu’s credit, the 17-year-old chose to not pull out of the match after being clearly troubled by her injured right knee. Sayali, executing her plan of making Sindhu, conqueror of Olympic champion Li Xuerui last month, stretch on either flanks, played the big points better in the deciding game to emerge victorious.
Double for Aparna
Aparna Balan, the doubles specialist, walked away with two titles before Manu Attri and Sumeeth Reddy stunned the more experienced pair of Akshay Dewalkar and Pranav Chopra for their maiden men’s doubles crown in the championship.
Kashyap, twice National runner-up, clearly turned out to be the more inspired contender on this day. The match lacked rallies as both players seemed to be a touch nervous on the threshold of their maiden National title.
Kashyap trailed in the early part of the opening game, but settled down to attack freely. The neck-and-neck battle finally turned Kashyap’s way when he broke away from 14-all for a four-point lead. Though Ajay closed the gap, he could not prevent Kashyap from taking the game.
In the second, Ajay jumped to a 9-4 lead but Kashyap won eight of the next nine points to take control. Keeping up the momentum, the Olympic quarterfinalist made it 16-12 and 18-14 before easing his way to the title.
“I am happy, actually relieved. I have been waiting for this title for very long. It was a tough match. Ajay and I have been competing against each other since our junior days. He is always a tough competitor to play against,” said Kashyap.
Ajay was disappointed with his effort in the final. “I could not execute my plans and he hit his strokes better. Though I had a lead in the second, I could not make it count. But, I will be taking lots of positives from this tournament,” said Ajay.
Sayali turned the match around after trailing 2-9 in the opening game. With Sindhu falling prey to a streak of errors, many of them unforced, Sayali won 12 points on the trot and eventually moved to 18-10 to virtually seal the game.
As in the semifinal against Arundhati Pantawane, Sindhu bounced back. She opened a 6-0 lead and never trailed before forcing the decider.
The closely-fought final game was locked at 12-all before Sayali broke away. She won five points in succession and kept up the pressure as Sindhu failed to reproduce the magic of her semifinal triumph. Sayali’s deserving victory was worth Rs. 81,000.
Later, the Badminton Association of India presented Rs. 10 lakh to chief coach P. Gopi Chand. Kashyap received Rs. five lakh for reaching the quarterfinals in the London Olympics and Sindhu got a similar amount for winning the Asian junior title.
The results (finals):
Men: P. Kashyap (Pet) bt Ajay Jayaram (Pet) 21-18, 21-17.
Women: Sayali Gokhale (AI) bt P.V. Sindhu (Pet) 21-15, 15-21, 21-15.
Men’s doubles: Manu Attri & B. Sumeeth Reddy (AAI) bt Akshay Dewalkar (AI) & Pranav Chopra (Pet) 10-21, 21-14, 21-12.
Women’s doubles: Aparna Balan (Pet) & N. Sikki Reddy (AAI) bt Varsha Belawadi & G.M. Nischitha (Kar) 21-11, 21-13.
Mixed doubles: Aparna Balan & Arun Vishnu (Pet) bt Ashwini Ponappa & Tarun Kona (Pet) 21-13, 18-21, 21-15.
Keywords: Badminton National championship