Srikanth, Gayatri-Treesa win bronze medals; Sindhu, Sen one step away from maiden gold

PTI, Aug 8, 2022, 8:28 AM IST

Srikanth Nammalwar Kidambi of India celebrates winning match point against Jia Heng Teh of Singapore during their Bronze medal badminton match at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022. (credit: AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Birmingham: World championships silver medallist Kidambi Srikanth and young women’s doubles pair of Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand signed off with bronze medals in the badminton competition of the Commonwealth Games here on Sunday.

India are also assured of at least two more medals with double Olympic medallist P V Sindhu and debutant Lakshya Sen notching up contrasting wins in the semifinal stage to stay on course for maiden gold medals at the Games.

Srikanth, a former world number one, made amends for his semifinal loss as he prevailed over Singapore’s world number 87 Jia Heng Teh 21-15 21-18 to claim a bronze medal to go with the silver that he had won four years ago in Gold Coast.

In the following bronze medal playoff, Treesa and Gayatri registered a 21-15 21-18 win over world number 159 Australian pair of Wendy Hsuan-Yu Chen and Gronya Somerville to finish third on the podium in their first major event together as a combination.

Srikanth said he was happy to return with a medal after losing the semifinals.

“I came thinking that I can win the gold but it didn’t go the way I thought. After winning the first game, I was leading 19-18 (semifinals), probably if I had scored the next point, things would have been different. But yes, I’m happy that at least I was able to win a medal,” he told PTI.

“It was such a tough outing. After almost winning the semi-final and losing it from a point to come back and play for a bronze, it’s been tough and exhausting. I just wanted to win the medal.

“It’s a big event. Nobody wants to give up easily after coming this far, everybody knows one-two points can change the moment. It was about staying focused and score next three-four points. I was not thinking about anything else.” Earlier, Sindhu, who has a silver and a bronze from the 2018 and 2014 editions, rode on her technical superiority to outwit Singapore’s Yeo Jia Min 21-19 21-17 in a 49-minute contest to reach her second successive final. The Indian had also beaten Min in the team event.

World number 10 Sen, making his CWG debut, then seemed to have lost his way after a dominating start against Jia but he recovered in time to complete a 21-10, 18-21, 21-16 win in the men’s singles semifinals.

Satwik Sairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty ensured a third gold medal match for India on Monday when they downed Malaysia’s Chen Peng Soon and Tian Kian Men 21-6, 21-15 to reach the men’s doubles final.

The world number 7 pair, who had claimed a silver at Gold Coast, was too good for the Malaysians.

It could have been an all-Indian men’s singles final but an error-prone Srikanth squandered a first game advantage to lose to lower-ranked Tze Yong Ng 21-13, 19-21, 21-10 in the semifinals.

It was his second successive defeat to the Malaysian, having lost to him in three games in the mixed team final as well.

The world number 42 Tze had shocked reigning world champion, Yew Kean Loh of Singapore, in the quarterfinal and would face Sen in the summit clash on Monday.

After winning the opening game, the 13th-ranked Srikanth made too many unforced errors to go down in the semifinals. From 4-4 in the decider, errors rained from Srikanth’s racket, leaving him frustrated on the court.

With the Malaysian leading 17-9, there was no point of return for the Indian who netted a forehand on match point.

The Indian women’s doubles pairing of Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand had lost to the seasoned Malaysian combine of Thinnah Muralitharan and Pearly Koon Le Tan in the semifinals in straight games.

In the first men’s singles semifinal, Sen was stretched by his Singaporean opponent. He relied on the relentless attack to put his Singaporean opponent on the back foot and he was able to do that in the first game. A couple of forehand smashes on the Singaporean’s right helped him take a 1-0 lead in the match.

The momentum shifted towards Jia in the second game as he slowed the pace of the game. A drop shot followed by a backhand winner made it 8-8 before Jia went into the interval with a 9-11 advantage.

A slew of unforced errors from Sen saw Jia take the next five points to make it 9-16. Sen tried to hang in the game, but after the Singaporean took a shoe change break at 15-18, he was able to level the match when Sen hit a forehand long.

Sen built an 11-7 lead in the decider though Jia made the Indian work hard for every point. The Singaporean was also given the last warning for the delay in between points.

Sen got four points and converted the first one with a deft drop shot that set up a backhand winner.

“I didn’t get in the rhythm in the second but I managed to pull it off in the end. The crowd support also helped a lot in the first game,” said Sen.

“It was a tough game today. I have played him before, so I was expecting a good, fast-paced match.

“I wanted to control the net much better, but overall and from the back, the defence was very good. That was a really good match before the final,” said Sen.

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