INDIA GPG 2014 – Xue back from the precipice

China’s Xue Song pulled off a miraculous comeback to deny K. Srikanth his first international title at home, while taking his own first senior title, at the 2014 India Grand […]

China’s Xue Song pulled off a miraculous comeback to deny K. Srikanth his first international title at home, while taking his own first senior title, at the 2014 India Gold in Lucknow.

By Don Hearn.  Photos: Badmintonphoto and Don Hearn

Xue Song (pictured above) must have come to Lucknow fed up with the role of runner-up.  Three times in the past 15 months – at the World Junior Championship and then at the Australian and New Zealand Opens last spring – Xue had played a fantastic tournament, pulling off upset after upset, only to have to settle for silver in the end.

In Lucknow, he had marched through the field of Indian shuttlers until he found himself up against Thai Open champion K. Srikanth (pictured right), who was attempting to hold Team China to the three titles of which they had assured themselves when they booked all-Chinese finals in every doubles discipline.

Xue looked destined to continue his streak of lost finals as he dropped the first game and then trailed 12-19 in the second.  But then he pulled off an incredible 9 straight points to keep the match alive.  Faced with his own 11-19 deficit in the decider, Srikanth could manage only two saves before conceding the final two points, and the title, to Xue.

Incidentally, the last player to win his first Grand Prix Gold men’s singles title after turning 20 on the second day of the tournament was none other than Chen Jin.

Saina back on top

Former world #2 Saina Nehwal (pictured) came to the 2014 India Grand Prix Gold not having won an international title since the 2012 Denmark Open.  What’s more, she hadn’t topped the podium at home since her twin victories in 2010 at the India Open (the last year before it was upgraded to a Superseries) and the Commonwealth Games.

Her victory on Sunday in Lucknow came at the expense of Pusarla Venkata Sindhu, whose own impressive results last year had begun to steal some of Saina’s thunder. Sindhu may have been able to nab two Grand Prix Gold titles last year, as well as a World Championship bronze medal, but she was no match for Saina in the final in Lucknow, going down in straight games.

China swept the doubles.  The men’s doubles was a repeat of both the Asian Junior and World Junior Championship finals, and with the same result. Li Junhui / Liu Yuchen took their first ever title at the senior level, after being denied in the final in New Zealand last year.  This time, they had to work very hard against compatriots Huang Kaixiang and Zheng Siwei before edging them out 22-20 in the decider.

Wang Yilu and Huang Yaqiong (pictured) were actually the first of three Chinese finalists on the day to bounce back from losing a final in the past year to take their first ever international title.  The U.S. Open runners-up started off the afternoon by beating their compatriots and reigning World Junior Champions Huang Kaixiang / Chen Qingchen in two straight.

Final results
XD: Wang Yilu / Huang Yaqiong (CHN) beat Huang Kaixiang / Chen Qingchen (CHN) 21-18, 21-14
WS: Saina Nehwal (IND) [1] beat P. V. Sindhu (IND) [2]  21-14, 21-17
WD: Chen Qingchen / Jia Yifan (CHN) beat Yu Xiaohan / Huang Yaqiong (CHN) [4]  22-24, 21-19, 21-11
MD: Li Junhui / Liu Yuchen (CHN) [4] beat Huang Kaixiang / Zheng Siwei (CHN) [8]  21-17, 19-21, 22-20
MS: Xue Song (CHN) [9] beat K. Srikanth (IND) [6]  16-21, 21-19, 21-13

Click here for complete 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 @