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Anupama, Mithun crowned women’s and men’s singles champions in badminton nationals

Former junior world number one Anupama Upadhyaya and Mithun Manjunath notched up contrasting wins to secure the women’s and men’s singles titles in the 84th senior national badminton championship in Pune on February 28.

Anupama, 18, dished out a gritty performance to stun Aakarshi Kashyap 20-22 21-17 24-22 in an hour and 18 minutes in the women’s singles final at the Balewadi stadium in Pune.

In men’s singles summit clash, Orléans Masters runners-up Mithun saw off Priyanshu Rajawat 21-16 21-11 in just 38 minutes to lift the coveted trophy.

Top seed and Commonwealth Games bronze medallists 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 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 as the experienced Aakarshi fought back from 11-15 down to win seven of the next eight points and pocketed the opening game on second game point.

The reversal made Anupama 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.

Anupama, however, held her nerves and was aggressive when it mattered. She pounced on the mistakes of her opponent to register her first ever win over Aakarshi and clinch the biggest title of her fledging career.

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 engaged in some tight battles in the initial exchanges and the latter managed to grab a 10-9 cushion at one stage but the eventual champion clinched five straight points to take the lead and race away with 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. Soon it was a one-way traffic as the 24-year-old from Karnataka shut the door on his rival.

Results (all finals)

Women’s singles: Anupama Upadhyaya bt Aakarshi Kashyap 20-22, 21-17, 24-22

Women’s doubles: Gayatri Gopichand/Treesa Jolly bt Kavya Gupta/Deepshikha Singh 21-10, 21-9

Men’s singles: Mithun Manjunath bt Priyanshu Rajawat 21-16, 21-11

Men’s doubles: S Kushal Raj/S Prakash Raj bt Akshan Shetty/Deep Rambiya 8-21, 21-19, 21-8

Mixed doubles: T Hemanagendra Babu/Kanika Kanwal bt Siddarth Elango/Khushi Gupta 21-17, 21-16.

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