INDIA GPG 2016 SF – Pranaav and Akshay into first final!

In their third straight semi-final appearance at their home Grand Prix Gold, India’s Pranaav Jerry Chopra / Akshay Dewalkar have finally booked a spot in the final, with a huge […]

In their third straight semi-final appearance at their home Gold, India’s Pranaav Jerry Chopra / Akshay Dewalkar have finally booked a spot in the final, with a huge win over world #7 Kim/Kim.

By Don Hearn.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (archives)

Indian shuttlers scored one expected and on surprise victory on semi-finals day at the Syed Modi India Grand Prix Gold in Lucknow.  Kidambi Srikanth was the only top seed to survive until Sunday but the big news came in men’s doubles, where Pranaav Jerry Chopra / Akshay Dewalkar (pictured) finally booked a spot in a Grand Prix Gold final.

This is not the first time that India’s doubles players have caused a sensation at their home Grand Prix Gold.  In fact, Pranaav and Akshay were part of a contingent of four local pairs involved in the semi-finals in the 2015 edition.  But while last year it was their compatriot Manu Attri who came up with the biggest upsets and eventually made the final in mixed, this year it was the elder pair’s turn to produce the surprise victory.

The Indians were up against China Open champions Kim Ki Jung / Kim Sa Rang.  Not only were they winless against the two Kims but they had never won a match against any Korean pair before this weekend.  Tan Kim Her has recently joined the Indian team as a doubles coach and while neither Kim had joined their national squad before Tan finished his stint in Korea, what the Malaysian brings to his new post might have something to do with Saturday’s result.

As the match began, the locals were the ones playing like favourites against the second seeds.  They opened up a 19-16 lead late in the first game and although they missed out on their first game point opportunity, they made good in the end to win 25-23 and get the one-game lead.

After dropping the second game in short order, the Indians kept ahead throughout most of the decider and just when it appeared that the Koreans might have turned the tables, holding a 17-16 lead, the local favourites scored four in succession to close out the match.

The other men’s doubles semi-final was also an upset, as Goh V. Shem and Tan Wee Kiong (pictured) finally found a way past top seeds Boe/Mogensen.  For a second straight week, there will be a Malaysian pair in a men’s doubles final and the result will put Goh and Tan back in position to qualify for Rio, as they nudge ahead of compatriots Koo/Tan, who were runners-up at home last week.

Two title shots for home favourites

Kidambi Srikanth (pictured) is in a second straight final at his home Grand Prix Gold.  He made quick work of veteran Boonsak Ponsana and will face China’s Huang Yuxiang.  Huang, who faded into obscurity after winning the Asian Junior title back in 2010, had to save a match point in his second game against compatriot Shi Yuqi before coming back and earning a spot in his second career Grand Prix Gold final.

Srikanth is playing in his third straight final in Lucknow, having lost to Xue Song and Kashyap Parupalli in the last two editions.  Prior to beating Ponsana, he had already seen off Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin of Malaysia, the man who had upset him a week ago.

In women’s singles, the home team is without a representative.  Saina Nehwal withdrew, ill, before the tournament began and last year’s runner-up P. V. Sindhu suffered an early upset to Thailand’s Nitchaon Jindapon.  Unfortunately for the Thai, she met the same fate of her two compatriots in Saturday’s singles semi-finals as both she and Porntip Buranaprasertsuk lost in two games.  The final will be between Sung Ji Hyun of Korea and Japan’s Sayaka Sato.

One Thai underdog into the final

The other Japan-Thailand contest on Saturday ended in a upset.  Although neither Dechapol/Taerattanachai nor Kazuno/Kurihara were seeded, the Japanese pair is closing in on an Olympic qualifying spot, while the Thais are playing in only their fourth tournament together.

The Thai pair lost the first game narrowly but came back to win the next two easily and 18-year-old Puavaranukroh Dechapol (pictured) is in his first major international final and has a chance at only his second title, his other one being the 2014 World Junior Championship.

The other mixed semi-final followed a similar game pattern but it was the favourites who won.  Korea’s Shin Baek Cheol / Chae Yoo Jung completely fell apart in the second game but the decisive turnaround was in the decider, when Praveen Jordan / Debby Susanto rebounded from 6-10 down to score an incredible 12 straight points and take a lead they would not come close to relinquishing.

The one disappointment for the home fans came in the first semi-final that featured Indian players.  It was a fast and furious match between the 2nd-seeded Jung Kyung Eun / Shin Seung Chan (pictured) and former Commonwealth Games gold medallists Jwala Gutta / Ashwini Ponnappa.

The match featured three of the hardest hitters in international women’s doubles, as well as one of the game’s best front court players.  The Indian pair gave the crowd plenty to cheer about but the Koreans kept their consistency and entered their fifth final in as many months.

Korean hopes for a third all-Korean women’s doubles final in three months were thwarted, however, as Eefje Muskens / Selena Piek of the Netherlands shut down world #5 Jang/Lee in short order.  The Dutch pair are now looking for their first Grand Prix Gold title since 2013.

Finals line-up
XD: Praveen Jordan / Debby Susanto (INA) [2] vs. Puavaranukroh Dechapol / Sapsiree Taerattanachai (THA)
WS: Sung Ji Hyun (KOR) [2] vs. Sayaka Sato [5]
WD: Jung Kyung Eun / Shin Seung Chan (KOR) [2] vs. Eefje Muskens / Selena Piek (NED) [3]
MD: Goh V. Shem / Tan Wee Kiong (MAS) vs. Pranaav Jerry Chopra / Akshay Dewalkar (IND)
MS: Kidambi Srikanth (IND) [1] vs. Huang Yuxiang (CHN)

Click here for complete semi-final results

Don Hearn

About Don Hearn

Don Hearn is an Editor and Correspondent who hails from a badminton-loving town in rural Canada. He joined the Badzine team in 2006 to provide coverage of the Korean badminton scene and is committed to helping Badzine to promote badminton to the place it deserves as a global sport. Contact him at: don @