December 24, 2013 2:06:39 am
It was hard to believe that just a year separated PV Sindhu and Rituparna Das,the womens singles finalists at the 78th Senior Badminton Nationals. The former strode on to the Siri Fort Stadium with the confidence of someone who at 18,had won a World Championship bronze,a GP gold and an Arjuna Award all in the same year. Trailing a bit behind and standing nearly half a foot shorter was Das,playing her first national final.
Dass bob-cut made her look even younger than her 17 years she almost seemed burdened by her kit bag.
Das,the current junior national champion,conceded the first point courtesy a poor error. The next point though had everyone taking notice. Sindhus powerful drive was countered with a high toss and the return was pushed softly into a corner. When the hard return followed,Das was already waiting at the net to finish the point with a deceptive half-smash.
Such moments of brilliance were rare and the rest of the game proceeded according to script. Das enjoyed a 11-7 lead at one stage in the second game,but Sindhu eventually won her second national championship in straight games c But in the half hour that the match lasted,there were enough pointers to give a clear indication that Das is a name to keep an eye on for the future.
Both Sindhu and Das train at the Gopichand Academy in Hyderabad. Perhaps,Gopichand likes the fact that Das is a throwback to the old days,for the chief coach often grinned when talking about about her. Rituparna has a very fluent and elegant game. Things seem to come easily to her, he said.
With both players emerging from the same stable,no coach from the academy sat alongside the courts to offer advice. Previously in the tournament though,Mohammad Siyadattullah,assistant coach at the Gopichand Academy,had been in Das corner,much as he had been for Sindhu over the years starting from the time she was simply a junior with promise.
Sindhu is very aggressive,she is constantly attacking the opponent. She wants to get things over with quickly. Rituparna is more of a classical Indian player,very soft and elegant, said Siyadattullah,comparing the finalists. So Rituparna plays a lot of half smashes,high tosses,and uses a lot of changes in pace. Sindhu has strength and speed but Rituparnas movement on the court is very good. Where others will run and get to a shuttle,she appears to walk and get there.
The big difference between the two players,apart from experience,Siyadattullah claims is simply that Sindhu is just a lot stronger than Das. This isnt to say that Rituparna isnt fit, he cautioned. She had a couple of really long matches in the quarters (against Tanvi Lad) and semifinals (against defending champion Sayali Gokhale). And compared to most Indian players she has the ability to play long games. But Sindhu is at a much higher level and if she wants to get there,she will have to get stronger, he says.
What Das has in her favour,apart from her languid strokes,is what coach Gopichand termed simply as poise. She doesnt get too worked up if she misses a point and she doesnt show her emotions on court. She stays calm and level headed. Not a lot of players have that, Gopi said.
This behaviour,to stay cool no matter what,is not always a good thing. Just ask Dass father Mohan,who believes that his daughter often carries out the attitude to extremes. Rituparna doesnt seem to bother about her matches or even tournaments. Sometimes when she wins a tournament,she wont even tell us, complained the father.
But alongside poise,Siyadattullah feels that Das does need to get more aggressive. Gopi sir says it is a good thing to be able to forget both your wins and defeats quickly and Ritu has that. But sometimes you feel that she gives up during the match itself, he explained. In her previous game against Sayali,during the first game which she lost,she began saying my movement isnt good. I had to tell her dont make excuses,your movement is fine,you just need to play your strokes correctly. She did that and won. She sometimes needs someone to push her.
Srikanth bags mens title
In other results,K Srikanth,dug deep to put one over RMV Gurusaidutt 21-13,22-20 in the mens final. a 40-minute mens singles contest. Though Gurusaidutt fought hard in the second game,Srikanth raised his level to close it out in straight games in 40 minutes.
Top seeds Pranaav Jerry Chopra and Akshay Dewalkar clinched the mens doubles crown title with a 21-19,21-17 win over second seeds Manu Attri and Sumeeth Reddy B in a 39-minute contest.
Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa,the second seeds,asserted their superiority in the womens doubles event easily beating top seeds Pradnya Gadre and Siki Reddy 21-17,21-16 in 34 minutes.
In the mixed doubles section,second seeds Aparna Balan and Arun Vishnu defeated the top seeds K Tarun and Ashiwini Ponnappa 21-10,21-17.
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