There was a huge buzz ahead of the men’s final of the 81st National badminton championship at the Patliputra Sports Complex here, on Tuesday, between Lakshya Sen, all of 15 years old, and an experienced Sourabh Verma, the third seed.
With the event bereft of star players such as K. Srikanth, Ajay Jayaram and P. Kashyap in the men’s section and Saina Nehwal and P.V. Sindhu among the women, Lakshya provided a much-needed spark.
Even though the Uttarakhand teenager lost tamely to Sourabh 21-13, 21-12, this edition will be remembered primarily for his exploits.
Earlier, second seed Rituparna Das of Telangana bagged the women’s title, defeating Reshma Karthik of Air India 21-12, 21-14.
This is her first win, after having reached the final twice, in 2013 (New Delhi) & 2015 (Vijayawada).
Much was expected from Lakshya, but Sourabh came out all guns blazing. From the start, he hardly put a foot wrong.
His net play was sharp, his forehand and backhand drops were close to the net, hardly giving Lakshya any chance to net flick and get back into the rally.
Briefly in the first game, Lakshya produced shots he is known for — deft drops, effective forehand smashes and solid defence.
Sourabh was always ahead in the game and from 10-all, the momentum shifted in favour of Sourabh. The World No. 41 accelerated further with his jump smashes, and Lakshya couldn’t do much.
Sourabh did not allow Lakshya any leeway in the second game either.
Wonderful net play and pinpoint smashes to the vacant spaces or to Lakshya’s body marked the third seed’s strategy. After taking a 15-6 lead, Sourabh didn’t look back.
“I did beat him in the Syed Modi International tournament recently. So, I knew how to play him,” said Sourabh, who bagged his second National title.
There were hardly any long rallies in the women’s summit clash. Reshma made numerous mistakes from the back court. Her overhead cross-court drops and net play that had helped her beat sixth-seeded Anura Prabhudesai and the top seed Tanvi Lad, failed her.
And Rituparna, a consistent player, rode mainly on Reshma’s unforced errors.
“This time, I had an easy draw. That made it easy. I will now focus on International tournaments and improve my World rankings, which is at 55 at the moment,” said Rituparna.
R. Satwik Sai Raj of Andhra Pradesh bagged a ‘double’, winning the men’s doubles with Chirag Shetty and mixed doubles with K. Maneesha.
Finals: Men: Sourabh Verma (Pet) bt Lakshya Sen (Utr) 21-13, 21-12.
Doubles: R. Satwik Sai Raj (AP) & Chirag Shetty (AAI) bt K. Nanda Gopal (Cht) & Sanyam Shukla (AI) 21-17, 16-21, 21-14.
Women: Rituparna Das (Tel) bt Reshma Karthik (Air India) 21-12, 21-14.
Doubles: Aparna Balan & Prajakta Sawant (Pet) bt Shikha Gautham (Kar) & Sanyogita Ghorpade (Mah) 21-9, 21-11.
Mixed doubles: R. Satwik Sai Raj (AP) & K. Maneesha (AI) bt Venket Gaurav Prasad & Juhi Dewangan (Cht) 21-14, 21-18.