Junior national champion Rituparna Das and Thailand Grand Prix gold winner K Srikanth stunned defending champions Sayali Gokhale and Parupalli Kashyap to reach the finals of women’s and men’s singles competitions respectively in the 78th ATS Senior National Championship.
Rituparna came from behind to upset seventh seed Sayali Gokhale 13-21, 21-13, 21-14, while K Srikanth got the better of top seed P Kashyap 21-14, 21-19 in 37 minutes at the Siri Fort Sports Complex.
Rituparna will now face second seed and pre-tournament favourite P V Sindhu, who defeated third seed Arundhati Pantawane 21-17, 21-14, while Srikanth will face off second seed RMV Gurusaidutt in the finals.
The semifinal encounter between defending champion Kashyap and challenger Srikanth was expected to be the highlight of the day. Kashyap though, was visibly hampered by the shoulder injury that forced him to pull out of the team championship.
Srikanth was the first to get off the blocks as he opened up an eight-point advantage and closed it out though Kashyap managed to save two game points. The second game also looked like going in the same direction as Srikanth surged to a 12-8 lead but Kashyap used all his experience to slow down the pace of the match and clawed back. Srikanth though came up with a few brilliant net dribbles to clinch the game and match with a back-hand drive.
In the women’s singles semifinal, Rituparna announced her arrival as the future of Indian badminton when she came from behind to comfortably outclass Sayali.
The Kolkata girl took time to settle down against the reigning national champion and though she lost the opening game rather tamely it was clear that the youngster was gaining confidence in her abilities. She opened a big lead in the second game and it was the more experienced Sayali who had to play catch up in the 53 minute encounter.
Both players looked to control the net exchanges and while there was not much to chose from, it was Rituparna’s ability to capitalise on any opening that Sayali provided that turned the tide in her favour.