Nagpur: World No 2 Kidambi Srikanth and giant-killer H S Prannoy will clash in the men's singles final at the 82nd Senior Badminton National championship here on Wednesday.
Second seed Prannoy overcame Subhankar Dey 21-14 21-17, while top seed Srikanth prevailed over rising shuttler Lakshya Sen 21-16 21-18 to set up a repeat of their semifinal battle in the French Open a little over a week ago.
Saina Nehwal, who is currently ranked World No 11, hardly broke a sweat as she defeated fifth seed Anura Prabhudesai 21-11 21-10 to reach the women's singles final.
Among others, mixed doubles combo of Satwik Sai Raj R and Ashwini Ponnappa will face top seeds Pranaav Jerry Chopra and Sikki Reddy N after they emerged winners following the retirement of their semifinal opponents Sanyam Shukla and Sanyogita Ghorpade midway in the first game.
Pranaav and Sikki, however, had to dig deep to stave off a spirited challenge from Alwin Francis and Aparna Balan 21-16 22-24 21-8 in a match that lasted little over an hour.
Top seeded women's doubles pair of Sikki Reddy N and Ashwini Ponnappa will meet Sanyogita Ghorpade and Prajakta Sawant in the final.
The top seeded combo defeated Aparna Balan and Sruthi K P 21-10 21-14, while Sanyogita and Prajakta outlasted Rutaparna Panda and Mithula U K 18-21 21-12 21-16 in another semifinal.
Sixteen-year-old Lakshya, who clinched the Bulgarian Open this year, showed great athleticsm but lacked control and anticipation. He did surprise his senior pro with some of his strokes but it was not enough to dethrone Srikanth.
The Uttarakhand lad, who had reached the finals of Senior Nationals last year, fought hard for each point and after the initial duel entered the break 10-11 after managing to grab brief leads at 7-6 and 10-9.
After the interval, Srikanth, managed to keep his younger opponent at bay as he slowly extended the lead and sealed it comfortably in the end.
In the second game, Srikanth seemed in control initially as he led 11-7 at the break. But Lakshya produced an entertaining run of play, reeling off seven points on the trot to move into a two-point lead from 7-12 to 14-12.
His quick reflexes helped him match Srikanth in the long rallies and his ability to produce sharp smashes after catching the shuttle early helped him to gather a few points.
However, despite his best efforts, it was Srikanth who had the last laugh as he moved ahead to a 18-15 lead with a smash and closed the issue when Lakshya found the net.
It will be another pulsating battle between Srikanth and Prannoy, who have played four times in their international career but it was the former who had the last laugh on last three occasions. The only time Prannoy had beaten Srikanth was way back in 2011 at Tata Open.
Srikanth has been in the form of his life as he clinched four titles after reaching five finals this season to join the likes of two-time former Olympic champion Lin Dan, three-time Olympic silver medallists Lee Chong Wei and current Olympic gold medallist Chen Long.
Prannoy too have been in fine form as he reached the semifinals at Indonesia Super Series Premier and French Open Super Series to achieve his career-high ranking of World No 11. He had outwitted Chong Wei twice and defeated Chen once during the season....