SINGAPORE: B. Sai Praneeth clinched his maiden Super Series title by downing compatriot Kidambi Srikanth 17-21, 21-17, 21-12 in the Singapore Open final here on Sunday.
This was Praneeth’s first appearance in a Super Series final, the biggest events of the international badminton calendar. Previously, Saina Nehwal, P.V. Sindhu and Srikanth have won the coveted crown.
Until Sunday, only three other countries — China, Indonesia and Denmark — had been represented on both sides of the court.
After losing the first game 17-21, Praneeth showed tremendous grit to come back from being 1-6 in the dumps to level at 7-7. Srikanth tied to assert his dominance with a superb smash down the line to take a 8-7 lead but Praneeth seemed determined to go into the break 11-10, winning 10 of the 14 points on the bounce.
Leading 18-16, Praneeth showed great awareness to outfox Srikanth who relied on his smashes and netplay to dink the cork over his head when he was closer to the net for a sublime point. Three game points to play for, Praneeth returned the favour this time with an identical 21-17 win to hang the final game perfectly in balance. In the final game, Praneeth opened up a 10-4 lead and never looked back as Srikanth made an error.
Srikanth, who has a fair bit of experience having played in two finals and winning both — the 2015 India Open and 2014 China Open, never looked settled after the first game. It was Praneeth’s all round play and array of strokes that pinned his rival down.
“It’s a great feeling,” an elated Praneeth said later. “I practiced with him (Srikanth), so we know each other’s game very well. It was a really tough match. I have been playing well in this tournament and the final win is very special. My hard work had paid off.”