New Delhi: Chief national coach Pullela Gopichand on Sunday said the feat of his two proteges -- Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth -- winning the China Open Super Series Premier titles is "fantastic for Indian badminton".
While Saina clinched the women's singles title of the $700,000 event, compatriot Srikanth grabbed all the headlines by pulling off the biggest triumph of his career when he upset two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan to win the men's singles title in Fuzhou. (Saina Rates China Open Title as One of her Toughest Wins)
Sixth seeded Saina won her second Super Series title of 2014, after the Australian Open in June, by overcoming Japanese Akane Yamaguchi 21-12, 22-20 in 42 minutes, to be followed by Srikanth, who stunned the five-time World Champion Chinese 21-19, 21-17 in 46 minutes at the Haixia Olympic Sport Center.
"Great wins! It is fantastic for both of them and Indian badminton. For Saina, the entire tournament, she has played really well. It was a complete performance from her. She has been fantastic throughout. She has been getting some very good results recently and this will give her the confidence of doing well in the future," Gopichand told IANS.
Talking about Srikanth, the former All England champion, however, cautioned that though Srikanth has beaten 'Super' Dan and won a Super Series title, one should not expect him to become a star overnight.
"For Srikanth, it was a big match and at the end of it he kept his nerve to earn the big win. Overall, he has played some high level badminton throughout the tournament. He will not grow into a super star overnight. He has to be smart and progress like he is now and that's the way it is," added Gopi.
Though highly talented, reigning national champion Srikanth at time loses the plot in important matches because of his nerves, it was a different story Sunday as he showed nerves of steel to overcome his great opponent.
"Well, he is only 21 years old. The first time he played against Lin Dan, he was over-awed with the situation. The second time the amount of respect was still there. But now he did it," Gopi said of Srikanth, who had lost his previous two meetings against Dan.
The World No.16 Indian, on the eve of the summit clash, had said that it was his childhood dream to play Dan in a final, that too in his own backyard. On Sunday, he not only fulfilled his dream but went one step better.