Dev S Sukumar
The inaugural India Open Superseries could not have asked for better ambassadors to emerge champions at the end of the week. Lee Chong Wei, the world’s best player, and the young-and-coming Porntip Buranaprasertsuk of Thailand walked away with the singles crowns on a memorable final day. Japan took two gold (men’s and women’s doubles), while Indonesia won the mixed doubles.
While Chong Wei was expected to win, and he did, after a mild hiccup against old warhorse Peter Gade, it was Porntip who stole the show. With the India Open win, her first Superseries title, the young Thai has served notice. So astonishing were her skills that veteran commentator Gill Clark marked her out as an “exciting talent” who had greatly improved over the past one year.
Her left-handed Korean opponent, Bae Youn Joo, matched her briefly, early on. As the rallies progressed, it was apparent that Porntip, with her superior courtcraft and breathtaking variety of strokes, was pulling Bae back and across the court, placing the shuttle wherever she willed. It had been level until 9, but after that Porntip reduced Bae to a spectator. In the second game, she gave glimpses of her power as well; the 19-year-old seems to be a complete package, able to switch gears with ease, and if she fulfils the promise she has shown with this performance, women’s badminton has an exciting new star in the making.
Earlier, Lee Chong Wei was asked a few questions by veteran Peter Gade, but he probably knew all the answers long before he took the court. After an easy first-game win for the Malaysian, Gade equalised, and seemed to have the advantage with a 6-2 lead in the third. Then followed a long rally; Gade was forced into the error, and Chong Wei steadily closed in on the title. Towards the end, he was playing at half pace, confident that the Dane had nothing left to offer.
MS: 1-Lee Chong Wei bt 3-Peter Gade 21-12 12-21 21-15
WS: Porntip B bt Bae Youn Joo 21-13 21-16
MD: Hashimoto/ Noriyasu bt Angga Pratama/ Ryan Saputra 21-17 21-9
WD: Miyuki Maeda/ Satoko Suetsuna bt Mizuki Fujii/ Reika Kakiiwa 26-24 21-15
XD: Tantowi/ Lilyana Natsir bt Fran Kurniawan/ Pia Zebediah 21-18 23-21