Anupama, Mithun crowned National Badminton C’ship singles champions

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PUNE: Former World Junior No. 1 Anupama Upadhyaya and Mithun Manjunath registered contrasting victories to clinch the women’s and men’s singles titles in the Senior National Badminton Championship at the Balewadi Stadium here on Tuesday.

The 18-year-old Anupama got the better of Aakarshi Kashyap 20-22, 21-17, 24-22 in an hour and 18 minutes in the women’s singles final before Mithun dominated the men’s singles summit clash against Priyanshu Rajawat for a 21-16, 21-11 victory in just 38 minutes.

Top seed Gayatri Gopichand and Treesa Jolly were crowned the new women’s doubles champions while T Hemanagendra Babu and Kanika Kanwal clinched the mixed doubles crown. The men’s doubles combination of S Kushal Raj and S Prakash Raj wrapped up the proceedings to clinch the men’s doubles title.

The women’s singles final was a topsy-turvy affair with both players fighting for every point. The experienced Aakarshi fought back from 11-15 in the opening game by winning seven of the next eight points and pocketed the game on second game point. But the reversal only made Anupama more determined to go on the offensive, as she began with a 3-0 lead in the second, extended it to 9-1 and then maintained the advantage to force the decider.

The 18-year-old from Haryana looked like running away with the title and prize purse of Rs 3.25 lakh when she opened up a 17-10 lead in the decider. But Aakarshi wasn’t willing to give up. The World No. 42 engaged her opponent in long rallies and drew level at 17-17 to set up an exciting finish and even earned a match point that Anupama saved with the shuttle tumbling over after hitting the net chord.

To her credit, Anupama held her nerve under pressure, was aggressive when it mattered and pounced on the mistake her opponent made to register her first ever win over Aakarshi to clinch the biggest title of her fledging career.

If the fans were expecting another humdinger in the men’s final, Mithun’s superior defence and game strategy of not allowing Rajawat to get under the shuttle often meant that the Railways shuttler was always in control.

Both Mithun and Rajawat were a big cagey in the initial exchanges and the latter led 10-9 before the eventual champion clinched five straight points to take the lead and race to bag the game.

The second game turned into a lop-sided affair once Rajawat failed to find the winners and Mithun began getting more creative at the net. (ANI)

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