Lucknow, Jan 6: Awadhe Warriors displayed yet another dominating performance to beat Delhi Acers 6-(-1) and to virtually knock them out of the semifinals reckoning in the Vodafone Premier Badminton League Season 2 here on Thursday (Jan 5) at Babu Banarasi Das Indoor Stadium.
With the win, Awadhe Warriors now have won nine out of 10 matches; to make it two in two ties and establish themselves as a clear favourite to go all the way in the tournament.
Before the start of the tie, all eyes were set on Saina Nehwal, who was looking to bounce back after a disappointing start. Another high profile match of the tie was the first men's singles tie between Kidambi Srikanth of Warriors and Jan O Jorgensen of Acers.
With a lot riding on Saina, she did not fail to deliver on the expected lines and won a hard fought match against Nitchaon Jindapol of Acers 14-12, 11-7 to not only get her first win of the league, but also helped the Warriors take a 3-0 advantage over the Acers.
With the win, Saina now remains unbeaten against the Thai shuttler and has extended her unbeaten run to eight games against her.
Playing in the second match of the tie, Saina was slow to start as Nitchaon dominated the opening moments of the game taking a 5-2 lead. Saina, however after initial hiccups recovered well and won few crucial points to tie the scoreboard 6-6.
She then took two more points and with the scoreboard looking 8-6, it looked like Saina was just about to break away. But Nitchaon did not let her opponent off the hook and soon found her serving for the game.
However, she faltered and Saina took advantage to save the game. It was turning out to be a great battle with both the players not letting giving anything to each other but it was Saina who finally prevailed winning the first game 14-12.
In the second game, Saina was slow to start again and Jindapon again took a crucial 3-0 lead at the start, but Saina was slowly starting to come into her elements. She started to move better than the first game and as the match progressed she just grew into the match playing some exquisite shots which Jindapol did not have many answers to.
Jindapol put up a spirited show; however Saina prevailed eventually to win the game 11-7. The win not only saw Warriors win both their matches in the tie, but also gave them an extra point as it was a trump match for them.
"Lucknow has always been a great venue for and I am very happy to be here and win the match. I am pleased that I have been able to win the trump match and help my team take the advantage. I felt I played very good and it is actually satisfying to have such a great win after a long time," Saina said after the match.
"Jindapol is a very great player and has always given me a tough fight every time we played. It was same today but I am happy to have won the match. I look forward to play against in the future again," added Saina.
In the match which was a repeat from the pre-quarters from Rio Olympics, Srikanth and Jorgensen were involved in a thrilling battle. While Srikanth was looking for an encore, it was revenge on Jorgensen's mind with the former finally winning the match 11-9, 11-13, 11-9.
Starting the match, Srikanth was quick off the blocks and seized the early opportunity and opened up a considerable lead. Jorgensen however was not someone who would take down a beating lying on the ground. He fought back and soon made the lost grounds matching Srikanth move for move. But Srikanth who was looking in supreme touch eventually won the game 11-9.
Jorgensen made a comeback in the next game and took the game 13-11. With the match tied 1-1, a cracker of a decider was on the cards and it did prove to be an exciting contest with the Warriors star finally winning 11-9 to win his second consecutive match against the Dane and help his team seize a lead of 4-0 in the tie.
Earlier in the day, the first match saw men's doubles action with V Shem Goh and Markis Kido of Warriors beat the pair of Akshay Dewalkar and Vladimir Ivanov of Acers 11-14, 11-4 to start on a positive note.
In the mixed doubles encounter, Warriors pair of Bodin Issara and Savitree Amitrapai beat Jwala Gutta and Vladimir Ivanov of Acers 12-10, 11-5 to stretch the lead to 5-0.
In the final match of the tie, Son Wan Ho of Acers made took on Vincent Wong Wing Ki of Awadhe Warriors. It was a last chance for the Acers to salvage some pride out of the tie and reduce some damage as it was their trump match. But Wing Ki had other plans and he beat Son Wan 11-8, 11-6 to complete the rout.
After the end of day's play, it was Awadhe Warriors who are leading the standings with 11 points; Chennai Smashers are second on the table with eight points, while Mumbai who is also on eight points are in the third place, only because of their poor record in the trump matches as compared to Chennai.
Hyderabad are in the fourth place with five points as well. They trail Warriors by the virtue of more ties played. Bengaluru blasters are fifth with four points, while the defending champions are at the bottom of the table with one point.
1) Women's Singles - Saina Nehwal beat Nitchaon Jindapol - 14-12, 11-7
2) Men's Singles - K Srikanth beat Jan O Jorgensen - 11-9, 11-13, 11-9
3) Men's Singles - Vincent Wong Wing Ki beat Son Wan Ho - 11-8, 11-6
4) Mixed Doubles - Bodin Issara/Savitree Amitrapai beat Vladimir Ivanov/Jwala Gutta - 12-10, 11-5
5) Men's Doubles - Markis Kido/V Shem Goh beat Vladimir Ivanov/Akshay Dewalkar- 11-14, 11-4