Saina made to sweat
PUNE: It was the World Close Friends Day. But, Guru Sai Dutt and Saina Nehwal showed no sentiments as they prevailed over their unseeded friends in men’s and women’s singles respectively before clinching the gold in the third Commonwealth Youth Games at Shiv Chattrapathi Sports Complex here on Saturday.
Sai Dutt overcame spirited challenge from Aditya Prakash to record a 21-18, 20-22, 21-18 win in the final while Saina got the better of a fighting N. Sikki Reddy before wrapping a thrilling 23-21, 22-20 win in the women’s final.
The 15-year-old Sikki Reddy, playing for gold in front of capacity crowd, showed no signs of pressure while facing the World No. 11. She jumped to a 5-0 lead with some delectable drops at the net. Surprising her famed opponent with brilliant forehands, Sikki picked Saina’s weak forehand corner to her advantage.
However, quick to realize the game plan, Saina attacked Sikki’s backhand to fight back into the game. Leading 20-18, Saina’s forehand sailed out but she scored with a drop shot. Saina’s telling forehand smash down the line finally saw her pocket the game.
The script was no different in the second game as Sikki Reddy was in no mood to surrender. But the senior National champion hung on gamely and her experience in the crunch time saw her wrap up the second game.
“I never expected it to be so close. It was a really tough final. She played a brilliant game and honestly surprised me,” Saina said.
However, Sikki picked her maiden international gold late in the evening when she combined with P. C. Thulsi to down Canadian pair of Bruce Alexandra Mary and Li Michelle Man shan 21-18, 21-8 in women’s doubles final.
In the men’ singles final, Guru Sai Dutt wrapped up the first game interspersed with long ralliesand looked well set to win the second game too leading 20-14.
But Aditya came up with a terrific display at the net to pick up eight points in a row to clinch the game and take the issue into the decider.
However, in the third game, Sai Dutt raised the level of his game to clinch the match as Aditya faltered with his returns when it mattered most.
Other results: Bronze medal matches: Men’s singles: Martin Campbell (Sco) bt Rietvelde Paul Van (Sco) 21-13, 21-17.
Women’s singles: Riou Panuga (Eng) bt Currier Tiffany Chase (Mas) 18-21, 21-16, 21-16.