India was all prepared to host its first international badminton event, Syed Modi International Grand Prix Gold at the Babu Banarasi Das Indoor Stadium in Lucknow. The total purse of the event was $120,000.
Over the past few years, Indians have been performing considerably well at the event and have won at least one title in all editions but 2011. Before this year’s edition, India and Indonesia were tied at the first place with most titles (eight) in the tournament. It was a bit of a shocker for the fans and the authorities as top players like Saina Nehwal, Ajay Jayaram and Parupalli Kashyap withdrew from the tournament but still there was a star-studded field as P V Sindhu, Srikanth Kidambi, Sai Praneeth, Fischer/Nielsen et al battled it out on the court.
With the top seed withdrawing from the tournament, it was very much an Indian who was expected to lift the title but there were stiff challengers from other countries in the form of Hans-Kristian Vittinghus (Denmark), Zulfadli Zulkiffli (Malaysia) and Misha Zilberman (Israel). It all went according to the seedings till the third round after which there were a couple of upsets thus making the quarterfinals interesting. The semifinals and the finals were all Indian affairs as Sameer Verma got the better of Sai Praneeth in the latter to clinch the title.
After Saina Nehwal decided to pull out of the event, all Indian hopes rested on the Hyderabadi girl who won the the silver medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics. It was an easy job for her as no player was able to pose a challenge, and she without losing a single game won the title after defeating Indonesia’s Gregoria Mariska in the summit clash.
Mathia Boe and Carsten Mogensen, a 13 time Superseries winner and the number one seeds here had to fight their way through to the coveted trophy, a three setter in the first round, quarterfinals and semifinals had them all worn out before the finals but with sheer experience and grit they made it look easy as the breezed to the top of the podium after a straight sets victory over the eight seed Chinese Taipei pair in the finals.
The Danish pair of Kamilla Rytter Juhl and Christinna Pedersen were lucky enough to get a bye and walkover in their first two rounds and quarterfinals respectively as they reached the last four without stepping on the court. In the semifinals, they faced the number three seeds from Malaysia who after giving a tough challenge in the first set seemed to have lost their rhythm thus ensuring the tops reached the finals where they were against the winners from the other semifinal, Ashwini Ponnappa and N. Sikki Reddy who defeated their compatriots in a well fought last four clash. Much to the crowd’s disappointment, the Indian pair wasn’t able to do much as the top seeds raced away with the match and the title.
Denmark’s Joachim Fischer Nielsen and Christinna Pedersen the former world number one were the clear favourites to win the mixed doubles championships here but a shock loss to the seventh seeds, B. Sumeeth Reddy and Ashwini Ponnappa in the semifinals gave way to the second seeded Indian pair of Pranaav Jerry Chopra and N. Sikki Reddy (who defeated another Danish pair in their semifinals) to capture the trophy as they defeated their country mates in straight sets in the title round.
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