Srinagar: India's top male shuttler Parupalli Kashyap won his maiden national title, while 2008 winner Sayali Gokhale stunned defending champion PV Sindhu to clinch the crown for the second time in the women's singles at the 77th Senior National Badminton Championship here yesterday.
London Olympics quarterfinalist Kashyap, who had reached the finals in the 2011 Nationals in Rohtak, prevailed over Ajay Jayaram 21-18, 21-17 in a 45-minute battle.
However, for 17-year-old Sindhu the competition ended on a disappointing note as Sayali played a better game to walk away with a 21-15, 15-21, 21-15 win and regain her title, which she had won in 2008.
Doubles specialist Aparna Balan notched up two titles, winning the mixed doubles and women's doubles title, along with Arun Vishnu and Siki Reddy, respectively.
Aparna combined with Arun to see off Ashwini Ponnappa and Tarun Kona 21-13, 18-21 before pairing up with Siki Reddy to brush off second seeds Varsha Belawadi and GM Nischitha 21-11, 21-13 to win the women's doubles title.
In the men's doubles competition, young shuttlers Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy notched up their maiden national title, beating third seeds Akshay Dewalkar and Pranaav Jerry Chopra 10-21, 21-14, 21-12 in a 40-minute match.
World number 20, Kashyap led the first game 11-9 at the break and even though Ajay clawed back a couple of times, the Hyderabadi pocketed the game.
In the second game, Ajay was up 10-8 at one stage but Kashyap reeled off three points to move into the breather at 11-10. Slowly and steadily he once again widened the gap to set up match points at 20-16. Ajay saved one match point, before Kashyap shut the door on him with a smash.
"It is a huge burden off my back now. It took a long time and I am extremely happy to win the nationals. It has been a dream to win the nationals," Kashyap said.
"It was a tough match. Ajay and I have been competing against each other since our junior tournaments. He is always a tough competitor.
"Probably, my ability to do well under pressure was the key today. It was during the Commonwealth Games, then the 2012 Olympics and today here. I have learnt to handle pressure situations," he added.
While it was celebration for Kashyap, for Sindhu it was a heartbreak after the shuttler failed to stave off the challenge from Sayali.
Sindhu, who was once again playing with a knee brace, led 5-1 initially but Sayali turned the tables, leading 11-9 at the break after registering nine straight points.
She continued the good work to earn game points at 20-14. Sindhu saved one point before losing the first game.
The Gopi trainee made amends in the second game and successfully kept Sayali at bay to push the match into the decider. However, she couldn't keep the pressure on and gave away the advantage after leading 9-5. Sayali made it 11-11. At 12-12, Sayali pocketed five points to create a huge gap, which Sindhu could never bridge.
"It's a very good feeling to win the nationals once again. After winning it in 2008, I faltered every time coming close to it. My strategy today was to play an attacking game and keep up the pace. Though I made a couple of mistakes, but it worked eventually," Sayali said.
"I knew Sindhu had a knee problem. It was apparent with the way she played yesterday against Arundhati. I just played without any pressure," she added.
Results: Finals: Men's singles: P Kashyap bt Ajay Jayaram 21-18, 21-17; Women's singles: Sayali Gokhale (2) bt PV Sindhu (3) 21-15, 15-21, 21-15; Mixed doubles: Aparna Balan (1) and Arun Vishnu bt Ashwini Ponnappa and K Tarun 21-13, 18-21, 21-15; Women's doubles: Aparna Balan (1) and N Siki Reddy bt Varsha Belawadi (2) and GM Nischitha 21-11, 21-13; Men's
doubles: Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy bt Akshay Dewalkar (3) and Pranaav Jerry Chopra 10-21, 21-14, 21-12.
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