Abu Dhabi Masters: Unnati Hooda captures singles title, Ponnappa-Crasto secure first championship as pair

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ABU DHABI: In a battle of future Badminton stars from India, Unnati Hooda outdid Samiya Imad Farooqui to capture the women’s singles title at the Abu Dhabi Masters 2023 on Sunday.

Unnati Hooda, 16, defeated Samiya Imad Farooqui, 20, 21-16, 22-20, in just 40 minutes on the badminton courts of the ADNEC Marina Hall in the UAE capital. Both players are currently ranked outside of the top 100 in badminton, as per Olympics.com.

Unnati Hooda won her second BWF Super 100 World Tour title. She became the youngest Indian to win a BWF title last year at 14 years of age, beating 21-year-old Smit Toshniwal in the final. In that tournament too, she defeated Farooqui in the quarterfinals.

Coming to the Sunday’s match, Unnati Hooda led by four points at the first mid-game break in Abu Dhabi. At 16-15, Farooqui cut the deficit to one point, but Hooda responded by scoring five of the next six points to take a 1-0 lead.

After the change of ends, Farooqui worried Hooda with cross-court shots and gained a six-point lead at 13-7. Hooda gradually clawed back to tie the game at 18-all and then saved two game points to seal the triumph.

Unnati Hooda began her tournament career in the round of 32, winning all of her matches in straight games.

While, Ashwini Ponnappa and Tanisha Crasto won their first BWF title as a pair in the women’s doubles final, defeating Denmark’s Julie Finne-Ipsen and Mai Surrow 21-16, 16-21, 21-8. Earlier this year, the Indian women’s badminton team won the Nantes International Challenge.

In the semi-finals of the Abu Dhabi Masters 2023, Ashwini Ponnappa and Tanisha Crasto upset N Sikki Reddy-Arathi Sara Sunil.

However in the men’s singles, Kiran George and Raghu Mariswamy both lost their semi-finals. The Indian men’s and mixed doubles teams did not get beyond the quarter-finals.

Meanwhile, top Indian badminton players, including PV Sindhu, will play at the French Open 2023 BWF Super 750 event starting on Tuesday. (ANI)

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