Saturday, October 27, 2012

French Open 2012 badminton: Saina Nehwal reaches Semi-finals

Saina Nehwal has continued her great form from the previous Denmark Open tournament, and has reached the semi-finals of the French Open 2012 badminton tournament that is being held at Paris, France from 23 to 28 October 2012.

However the win in the quarter-finals was not easy, as Saina barely managed to get past the world no.10, 17-year old Ratchanok Inthanon in a very closely contested match, defeating her Thai opponent by a score of 22-20, 22-20.

Saina Nehwal, who is the top seed for this tournament, will next be playing in the semi-finals against 4th seeded Juliane Schenk of Germany, whom she had defeated only last week in the finals of the Denmark Open tournament. Saina has also notched the no.3 spot in the BWF world badminton rankings after her title win last week.

In the other women's singles semi-final will Eriko Hirose of Japan will be taking on fellow Japanese player Minatsu Mitani.

Three of China's best women badminton players, Yihan Wang, Li Xuerui and Xin Wang are not playing in this tournament, and second seeded Shixian Wang has already been knocked out of the tournament having lost to Eriko Hirose of Japan earlier.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Saina Nehwal wins Denmark Open - 2012 badminton title

Saina had been away from competitive badminton since the last couple of months after her bronze medal winning performance at the London Olympics in Aug-2012. Given the fanfare that followed, the rewards and recognition ceremonies, the new sponsorship deals, and the two-month break, Indian badminton fans must have been wondering how she would perform at the Denmark Open super series where the world's top players had taken part. Would she still have the drive left in her to win the big matches? Will she be fitter than her opponents? However Saina has effectively put all such doubts to rest by doing what she does best. By winning!

Come this Sunday, and Saina Nehwal made her champion presence felt once again as she won the Denmark Open - 2012 super series badminton championship title by defeating Juliane Schenk of Germany in the finals by a score of 21-17, 21-8. It was Juliane who had earlier defeated reigning Olympic Gold medallist Xuerei Li of China in the quarter-finals.

Earlier in the semi-finals, Saina achieved an all-important victory over her arch-rival and nemesis from China, the world no.1 Yihan Wang. This was the seventh time they were facing each other and Saina had lost all the previous 6 matches against her. However this time round, Saina was able to reverse her fortunes and defeated Wang by a score of 21-12, 21-7 (retired). Wang seemed to have injured her right knee during the second game of the match.

With the win in the finals, Saina has become only the second Indian badminton player to have ever won the Denmark Open badminton title. She has now emulated the feat of Prakash Padukone, former Indian badminton star, who more than 30 years ago, in 1980, had won this prestigious title.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Saina Nehwal reaches semis of Denmark Open 2012

London Olympics bronze medallist Saina Nehwal playing in her first international tournament after her medal winning performance at the 2012 Olympics, has reached the semi-finals of the Yonex Denmark Open-2012 Super series badminton tournament that is being held at Odense in Denmark from 16-Oct to 21-Oct-2012.

Saina who is currently ranked no.4 in the world badminton rankings, will be taking on the world's no.1 player and top seed of the tournament Yihan Wang of China in the semi-finals. The previous match between these two players was the 2012 Olympics semi-finals in August, where Yihan had halted Saina's progress to the finals defeating her 21-13, 21-13. The two have played against each other 6 times since 2010, and Yihan has won all those 6 matches.

Given the head to head statistics it would be interesting to see how Saina approaches this game following her long break from badminton since the Olympic games, and whether she has any new tactics to counter the world no.1 Chinese player.

In the men's singles event at the Denmark Open-2012, the Indian challenge came to an early end, with Anand Pawar and Ajay Jayaram losing their first round matches, and while Sourabh Verma showed great promise defeating the world no.8 and 6th seeded Peter Gade in the first round, he had to face defeat in the next round against Indonesian player Sony Kuncoro.

In the men's doubles the Indian pair of Tarun Kona and Arun Vishnu lost in the first round, while in the mixed doubles, the pair of Tarun Kona and Ashwini Ponnappa met with the same fate and could not get past the first round.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

P.Kashyap and Sayali Gokhale win National badminton titles

Parupalli Kashyap went on the become India's new National badminton champion after he defeated Ajay Jayaram of Mumbai in the men's singles finals of the 77th Senior National Badminton Championship-2012 that was held at Srinagar from 26th September to 03rd October 2012.

In the final match, Kashyap defeated Ajay in two straight games with a score of 21-18, 21-17. A couple of months earlier, Kashyap had narrowly edged past Ajay to clinch a berth at the London Olympic Games. Kashyap had also performed well at the Olympics reaching the quarter-finals though his medal hopes were finally dashed when he lost against Malaysia's star player Lee Chong Wei.

It was a dream come true for Kashyap as this is first time that he has won the National Badminton Championship title.

In the Women's Singles badminton event, 2008 National badminton champion Sayali Gokhale managed to get past India's rising badminton star P.V.Sindhu to win the title back again.

P.V.Sindhu who has taken rapid strides recently at the World badminton level is currently ranked no.20 in the world having recently won the Asian Youth Championship title. Just last month she even pulled off a stunning victory against  London Olympic Gold Medallist Le Xuerei of China at the Li Ning Masters tournament in China. Compared to Sindhu, Sayali Gokhale is ranked a modest 131 in the world and given the recent performances it was Sindhu who was expected to win.

However Sindhu who was playing wearing a knee brace was apparently not fully fit for the game and seemed to have injured herself earlier in this tournament. Sayali made good use of her experience and put up a fine performance to make the maximum of this opportunity and to earn her second National badminton title. Sayali defeated Sindhu by a score of 21-15, 15-21, 21-15.

In the badminton doubles events, Aparna Balan earned double titles winning in the women's doubles as well as the mixed doubles.

In the women's doubles Aparna and N. Sikki Reddy won against the second seeded pair of Varsha Belawadi and G.M. Nischitha by a score of 21-11, 21-13. In the mixed doubles event, the top seeded pair of Aparna Balan and Arun Vishnu defeated Ashwini Ponnappa and Tarun K. in the final match by a score of 21-13 18-21 21-15.

In the men's doubles event, Manu Attri and B.Sumeeth Reddy won the title defeating the 3rd seeded pair of Akshay Dewalkar and Pranav Chopra by a score of 10-21 21-14 21-12.

77th National Badminton Championship 2012 - Title Winners:

Men's Singles: Parupalli Kashyap
Women's Singles: Sayali Gokhale
Men's Doubles: Manu Attri and B. Sumeeth Reddy
Women's Doubles: Aparna Balan and Sikki Reddy N.
Mixed Doubles: Aparna Balan and Arun Vishnu