Saina Nehwal bowed out of the Orleans Masters after a straight-game defeat to Denmark’s Line Christophersen in the women’s singles semi-final on Saturday but there was some good news for Indian badminton as the men’s doubles pair of Krishna Prasad Garaga and Vishnu Vardhan Goud Panjala cruised into the men’s doubles final with a thumping win.
There was no joy, however, in the women’s doubles semi-finals as Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy lost out to top-seeded Thai pair of Kititharakul Jongkolphan and Rawinda Prajongjai.
London Olympic bronze medallist, Saina lost 17-21, 17-21 to her Danish opponent in 28 minutes, while the women’s duo of Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy also faltered 18-12, 9-21.
However, Krishna and Vishnu cheered up the Indian camp with a 21-17, 21-17 win over English pair of Callum Hemming and Steven Stallwood in a 35-minute semi-final clash to reach their first final of a Super 100 event.
The Indian duo, playing their first event together this year, will take on fourth-seeded English combination of Ben Lane and Sean Vendy in the title clash on Sunday.
Krishna and Vishnu had a slender 4-2 early on but the English pair soon jumped to an 11-8 lead at the break. However, the Indian pair soon caught up at 13-13 and marched on to seal the opening game.
In the second game, Krishna and Vishnu slowly moved ahead to an 11-7 advantage at the interval and even though their rivals narrowed down the gap to 15-17, the Indian duo ensured there were no hiccups.
Krishna, 21, is India’s no. 1 ranked doubles player and used to pair up with Satwiksairaj Rankireddy in his junior days.
After Satwik and Chirag Shetty were paired together, Krishna started playing with Dhruv Kapila since November 2016. The duo continued for two and a half years before separating in 2019.
The 20-year-old Vishnu also played with a few other Indian doubles players in his junior days. He and Ishaan Bhatnagar had reached the finals at the 2019 Bulgarian Junior international.
As for Saina, it was a disappointing outing that dealt a blow to her hopes of qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics as never really got going against Christophersen. It was a close contest till the first game interval as the Indian only trailed 9-11, but the Dane pulled away after the restart as Saina could never really recover.
The Indian though made a flying start to the second game taking an 11-7 lead at the interval but had no answer to the Dane who blew away Saina in an intense spell that saw her overturn the deficit and take a lead in the contest.
The Indian failed to recover from that blow to lose in straight games.
In the mixed doubles semi-final, Dhruv Kapila and Ashwini Ponnappa went down fighting 9-21, 23-21, 7-21 in 54 minutes against Denmark’s Nicholas Nohr & Amalie Magelund.
With PTI inputs