Teenager Unnati claims women’s singles title, unseeded George wins men’s competition

CUTTAK, Jan 30:  Teenager Unnati Hooda became the youngest Indian to win a Super 100 tournament as she beat compatriot Smit Toshniwal in straight games to claim the women’s singles title while unseeded Kiran George emerged triumphant in men’s singles final of Odisha Open badminton tournament here on Sunday.

Producing an excellent performance to emerge triumphant in her event, the 14-year-old Unnati won 21-18 21-11 to be crowned champion in the inaugural edition of the USD 75,000 Odisha Open.

Hosts India dominated the last day’s proceedings winning three out of the five finals.

The 21-year-old George prevailed over fellow Indian Priyanshu Rajawat 21-15 14-21 21-18 to clinch the men’s singles title after battling hard for 58 minutes.

In another all-Indian final, Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand, daughter of former All England Open champion and Indian badminton legend Pullela Gopichand, defeated Sanyogita Ghorpade and Shruti Mishra 21-12 21-10 to claim the women’s doubles title after a 28-minute contest.

But in the mixed doubles final, India’s MR Arjun and Jolly suffered a 16-21 20-22 defeat at the hands of the Sri Lankan duo of Sachin Dias and Thilini Hendadahewa in a match that lasted 36 minutes.

There was also no Indian victory in the men’s doubles summit clash as the Malaysian duo of Nur Mohd Azriyn Ayub and Lim Khim got the better of the host nation’s Wah Ravikrishna PS and Sankar Prasad Udayakumar 18-21 21-14 21-16. The keenly-contested men’s doubles match lasted 51 minutes.

Unnati, who entered the final after she surprised Indian Open finalist Malvika Bansod 24-22 24-22 in the last-four clash on Saturday, took 35 minutes to get the better of Toshniwal in the summit showdown of the women’s singles at the Jawahar Lal Nehru Indoor Statdium.

Toshniwal too pulled off an upset, knocking out Ashmita Chaliha, seeded five, 21-19, 10-21, 21-17, to set up the title clash with Unnati.

Unnati claimed the the first game after making a comeback and riding on the momentum, she won the second game without much difficulty as Toshniwal had no answer to her opponent’s aggressive approach.

Unnati, who had made her debut on the senior international circuit only in October last year, began the match on the backfoot and trailed 11-7 at the first mid-game interval.

The shuttler from Rohtak, however, fought back to level the score and won three successive points to win the first game after the scores were level at 18-18.

Hooda had made the final of the India International Challenge last October.

George won the opening game quite comfortably and was leading 5-3 in the initial phase of the second game, but Rajawat fought back brilliantly to take the match into the decider.

The battle was intense in the third and final game with Rajawat trying his best to not allow George have his way.

However, the 19-year-old Rajawat fell short in the end as George kept his composure to win it and have the last laugh.

George had defeated Ansal Yadav, 19-21, 21-12, 21-14, while 19-year-old Rajawat scored a 21-17, 21-14 win over Kausal D in the men’s singles semifinals.

On his way to the final, George also stunned third seed and the higher ranked Subhankar Dey in the quarterfinals.  (PTI)