A few big results for Indian badminton this last week. Saina’s win at the Chinese Taipei Grand Prix Gold tournament is the biggest result for the country since her Philippines Open win in 2006. Compatriot Ajay Jayaram added to the cheer by taking the Waikato International, beating young Prakash Jolly in the final. The next week he reached another final, the Ashaway North Shore City International, losing to New Zealand’s John Moody. Neha Pandit reached the semis of both tournaments.
HT had this report:
September 14, 08: Beijing Olympics quarterfinalist Saina Nehwal created history on Sunday when she defeated Malaysia’s Lydia Cheah to win the Chinese Taipei Grand Prix badminton tournament in Taipei.
The 21-8, 21-19 win made Saina the first Indian woman shuttler to win a Grand Prix gold event, which is just under the Super Series in the tournament hierarchy.
The 18-year-old, seeded second, had won the Philippines Open in 2006. Though a few top players were missing from the tournament, as they preferred to rest after the Olympics, the significance of Saina’s achievement does not dilute since only former All England champions Prakash Padukone and Pullela Gopichand have won a tournament higher in stature for India.
“Though my win in Philippines is very close to my heart as it was my first major title, this definitely ranks above all,” the world number 14 told Hindustan Times from Taipei.
Neha Pandit reached the semis of both tournaments at New Zealand, faltering to eventual winner Ayaka Takahashi of Japan at the Waikato and Miyaki Matsutomo at the North Shore.
North Shore results (women):
Waikato International results (women)