India's Olympic 2016 silver medallist P.V. Sindhu overcame her Rio Games conqueror Carolina Marin of Spain in straight games to win her maiden India Open Superseries badminton title at a packed Siri Fort Sports Complex in New Delhi on Sunday.
The match-up between Sindhu and Marin was a repeat of the 2016 Rio Olympic final which saw the Spaniard taking away the gold medal in a hard-fought encounter.
But in front of her home fans here, third seed Sindhu posted a 21-19, 21-16 triumph in 46 minutes to give another display of her fast-rising career.
Since the Rio final, it was the second contest between the two shuttlers and the 21-year-old Hyderabadi has won both. With this win, Sindhu also equalised 5-5 in career meetings against the two-time reigning world champion.
The Spanish top seed struggled with her net game which proved to be the difference between the two. But Sindhu also had to be credited for showing her ever-improving game, especially in the cross-court net-game and defence.
Backed by a partisan crowd, Sindhu got off to a flying start, opening up a 6-1 lead but Marin got her act together to reduce the deficit to one at 6-7, thanks to her delectable half smashes.
Sindhu then upped the ante and then pushed Marin into all corners. Hitting to the right of left-hander Marin, Sindhu gained the ascendancy even though the fighting Marin kept coming back at her.
Sindhu felt the pressure as Marin equalised at the 16-point mark and for the first took the lead at the next point. The seesaw game continued till the 19-point mark. Then, a powerful stroke from Sindhu to which Marin put it wide made it 20-19 for the Indian. Sindhu then sealed the first game when Marin was slow to defend a half smash.
The second game also saw Sindhu getting in the lead early, forcing Marin to play the catch-up game.
Marin seemed to be struggling with her movement due to a right foot niggle. But the warrior that she is, the Spaniard fought back to come within a point of equalising at the seven-point mark.
But Sindhu pushed on, holding an 11-7 lead at the mid-game break. Marin fired two angling smashes to make it 9-11 before the Indian snatched three consecutive points to have a five-point advantage.
Then onwards, double World Championship bronze medallist Sindhu never looked back and sealed the match with a 21-16 victory.
This was also her second title of the season after her win at the Syed Modi Grand Prix in Lucknow early this year.
"It was a very intense first game and it was crucial that I won it. It was a close encounter and tied at 19-19, any of us could have won it from here. We were not in the mood to give it away and played long rallies and eventually I came out on top," the Hyderabadi said.
Marin though disheartened after losing the final, praised her opponent. "It was after a long time that I have reached a final. It has been long time that I had come so far in any tournament in a long time. It did not turn out to be a good match for me but I am happy that I have reached the finals," Marin said after the match.
"On-court we might be rivals but off-court we are very good friends and I am happy for her that she won as she was the better player on the day," the Spaniard added.
In the men's final, top seed Viktor Axelsen of Denmark won his first India Open title as he thrashed Chinese Taipei's Chou Chen Tien 21-13, 21-10 in 36 minutes. It was the Rio Games bronze medallist Axelsen's third straight final appearance as the Dane further enhanced his domination in career meetings against Chou to 6-1.
The men's doubles title went to Indonesian fourth seeds Marcus Gideon Fernaldi and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo, who took only 30 minutes to see off compatriot sixth seeds Ricky Karanda Suwardi and Angga Pratama 21-11, 21-15 to retain their crown.
In the women's doubles final, Japanese seventh seeds's Shiho Tanaka and Koharu Yonemoto defeated compatriot third seeds Naoko Fukuman and Kurumi Yonao 16-21, 21-19, 21-10 in an hour and 12 minutes. It was Tanaka and Yonemoto pair's first Superseries title.
In an all-Chinese mixed doubles clash, second seeds Lu Kai and Huang Yaqiong got the better of top seeds Zheng Siwei and Chen Qingchen 22-24, 21-14, 21-17 in an hour and four minutes.