With Sourabh Verma standing across the net, the much-anticipated ‘coronation’ of younger brother Sameer as the new National badminton champion was never in doubt.
In keeping with the ‘prediction’ of a vast majority of players and officials, the men’s singles final proved farcical as Sourabh surrendered in just 25 minutes and let his ‘kid brother’ take the honours.
To the credit of the brothers, there was no play-acting or fake display of emotions during Sameer’s 21-16, 21-16 victory.
For the record, Sourabh, winner in 2012, and Sameer are now the only brothers to win the titles in 80 editions of the championship.
There were similarities in the two singles final with the second seed emerging a first-time winner.
The ladies final, between the country’s next best players after Saina Nehwal and P.V. Sindhu, saw Thulasi outplay top seed Tanvi Lad 21-9, 21-13.
Tanvi and Thulasi, ranked a distant 92nd and 101st in the world, produced 40 minutes of error-filled final. The after-affects of the Saturday’s tough semifinal showed on both players but Thulasi always looked in control. She blitzed past the opening game and bounced back from 5-9 in the second to win 16 of the next 20 points.
Arun & Aparna reign
Favourite Arun Vishnu and Aparna Balan won the mixed doubles title for the fifth year in a row. For Aparna, it was her sixth title in the event, having won with V. Diju in January 2007.
On this day, third seed Pranav Chopra and Sikki Reddy rallied from 15-20 in the first game and against 17-20 in the second but could not prevent Arun and Aparna from winning 22-20, 22-20 in 54 minutes.
Later, as it turned out, Sikki did manage to push Aparna on the losing side in the women’s doubles final.
Sikki and Pradnya Gadre retained the title by beating second seed Aparna and Prajakta Sawant 22-20, 21-18 in 44 minutes. Interestingly for Pradnya and Sikki, the first of their three National titles came in 2012 with different partners.
That year, Pradnya and Prajakta won in January and were dethroned by Sikki and Aparna in October.
The men’s doubles final saw favourite Pranav Chopra and Akshay Dewalkar come out stronger against second seed Alwin Francis and K. Tarun. The match ended abruptly after the first game following a knee-injury to Alwin.
The results (all finals): Men: Singles: Sameer Verma bt Sourabh Verma 21-16, 21-16.
Doubles: Pranav Chopra & Akshay Dewalkar bt Alwin Francis & K. Tarun (Pet) 21-15 (retd.).
Women: Singles: P.C. Thulasi bt Tanvi Lad 21-9, 21-13. Doubles: Pradnya Gadre & Sikki Reddy bt Aparna Balan & Prajakta Sawant 22-20, 21-18.
Mixed doubles: Arun Vishnu & Aparna Balan bt Pranav Chopra & Sikki Reddy 22-20, 22-20.