The 8th edition of the Syed Modi International Grand Prix Gold Badminton tournament concluded on 29 January 2016 and provided some great moments and excitement along the way. After being given a BWF Grand Prix status in 2009, the competition has provided a great platform for some of the younger badminton players to prove their mettle against some of the best in the world.
This year was no different as we saw some great young prospects in Indian Badminton such as Sameer Verma, Sai Praneeth, Harsheel Dani, Videhi Chowdhury and Rituparna Das among others go head to head against established players in the world game such as PV Sindhu, Srikanth Kidambi, Hans Kristian Vittinghus and Beatriz Corrales.
The mixed doubles draw, boasting the likes of Nielsen & Pederson from Denmark provided some great competition, but it was the two Indian pairs who managed to reach the finals. Sumeeth Reddy teaming up with Ashwini Ponappa went head to head with their compatriots Pranav Jerry Chopra and Sikki Reddy. It was a fierce battle with both teams trying their best. It was, however, Chopra and Reddy who emerged winners in the dying moments of the game, edging it 22-20. Gathering confidence with their first game win, they drew a comfortable win for the match with a 22-20, 21-10 win.
Unfortunately, this joy lasted only a little while as top seeds Juhl and Pederson lived up to their reputation and beat Chopra and Reddy 21-16, 21-18 in the mixed doubles finals.
The much-celebrated doubles pair of Mathia Boe and Carsten Morgensen outplayed their Chinese Taipei opponents to emerge winners in the men’s doubles finals with a 21-14, 21-15 score.
PV Sindhu, meanwhile, continued her great form leading up to the event as she claimed the Women’s Singles Gold defeating Gregoria Mariska of Indonesia in the final. The Indian did not drop a single game throughout the tournament and dispatched every challenge that came along the way with utmost ease. The final was no different as she seemed totally in control throughout the game as the match ended 21-13, 21-14. This was Sindhu’s first ever Syed Modi International title win.
The most intriguing story of the tournament was the men’s singles draw where we found two unlikely finalists in the form of Sameer Verma and Sai Praneeth who ensured their place in the finals after defeating much higher ranked opponents.
While Sai Praneeth defeated former world number 2 and Rio Quarterfinalist Srikanth Kidambi in the semi-final in a competitive contest lasting three games, Sameer Verma caused one of the biggest shocks of the tournament as he got the better of championship favourite Hans-Kristian Vittinghus 21-15, 21-13 in the quarterfinals.
Both the shuttlers were confident heading into the final, but it was Sameer who was the winner as the match ended 21-19, 21-16. The match was a close-contested affair with Sai Praneeth providing a great challenge to his counterpart, but Sameer ended up winning the more crucial points in the game and thus the match.
The Syed Modi International Grand Prix Gold Badminton tournament has been a breeding ground for many young Indian talents down the years and this year seemed no different. Hopefully, we will be seeing more of young Sameer Verma, Sai Praneeth and Harsheel Dani in the future and see them challenge the elites of the world game on a more consistent basis.