The finals followed contrasting patterns. Nehwal was virtually in no doubt during her 49-minute rout of former champion Ratchanok Intanon (Thailand); Srikanth had a more difficult path against Viktor Axelsen before the Dane suffered a meltdown in the third.
Nehwal entered to a thunderous ovation in a packed stadium. The new No.1 was authoritative from the beginning, picking up near-winners from the deft wrist of her opponent and forcing her into committing errors. Her athletic retrievals contrasted with Intanon’s leaden-footedness; the Thai was perhaps feeling the after-effects of her marathon semi-final.
“Intanon has a lot of tricky shots and is a difficult opponent,” said Nehwal after sealing it 21-16 21-14.
“I was picking up her most difficult shots and I could sense that she was getting frustrated. I expected a tough final. Now that I’ve won the India Open, a burden is off my shoulders. I finally did it. I’ve struggled four times before. I surprised myself by the way I played. My form today was even better than yesterday.”
Srikanth’s match against Axelsen promised a thriller. The clash of attacking styles produced an exciting contest to begin with, with both Axelsen and Srikanth unleashing their big smashes at the first opportunity.
At a game apiece and 7-3, the advantage had swung the Dane’s way. At 7-10, Srikanth won a crucial line challenge and from there the lead was whittled down. From 10-12, Srikanth blitzed past the Dane, winning the next 11 points, leaving Axelsen shell-shocked, 18-21 21-13 21-12.
“I just played fearlessly,” said Srikanth.
“I didn’t want him to have a big lead at the mid-game interval. I pulled off whatever I tried today.”
For day’s results, click here.