An impeccable performance from PV Sindhu helped her win a maiden women's singles title at the $325,000 India Open Superseries in New Delhi on Sunday. The 21-year-old came out with her best game to defeat reigning Olympic and World Champion Carolina Marin of Spain 21-19, 21-16 in 47 minutes in the final. This was the Hyderabadi's second successive victory over the top seed since Sindhu's loss to Carolina in the famous 2016 Rio Olympics final. Sindhu had also beaten Carolina in the Dubai World Superseries Finals in December 2016. However, this was the Olympic silver medallist Sindhu's second Superseries title after also winning the China Open in November 2016.
Only two other Indians -- Saina Nehwal (women's singles) and Kidambi Srikanth (men's singles) -- have won the India Open previously, both clinching their respective titles in 2015.
World No.5 Sindhu, who was seeded third in the tournament, bettered her record to 4-5 against the World No.3 Carolina. The twice World Championship bronze medallist also bagged her first victory over Carolina in two meetings in India.
The India Open crown is Sindhu's second title of the year after also winning the Syed Modi International Grand Prix Gold in Lucknow in January.
Sindhu started on a brilliant note in the first game. Though Carolina drew first blood, it was the Indian who won the next six points to take a 6-1 lead. But the Spaniard stayed close to Sindhu's point count throughout and eventually took the lead at 18-17 and then at 19-18.
The Hyderabadi found her legs and confidence to clinch the next three points to close the game in her favour and take the crucial lead in the match.
The Indian started in the same fashion in the second game as well. Sindhu won four points on the trot to go 4-0 ahead and made sure she maintained a healthy lead throughout the second game.
Though Carolina kept fighting back, the Olympic silver medallist dominated the game to easily close the game in 25 minutes and on her second match point.
Sindhu returned home with a cheque of $24,375 while Carolina got a cash reward of $12,350 for her runners-up performance.
"I really played well. The first game was really crucial for me. It was a good match overall. I am really happy with my performance. She also played well. For both of us, the first game was really important. From the start, both of us were fighting for every point. There were no easy points, there were long rallies," Sindhu said.
Asked if pocketing the first game gave her an edge, Sindhu said: "You never know because each point was important. It's just that every point was important for both of us."
Sindhu rated India Open as one of the important tournaments in her itinerary.
"After China Open, this is my second (Superseries) title and that too at the start of the year. I would like to thank the spectators, they were really very supportive. It's been really nice because the whole stadium was cheering for both of us."
Marin admitted that unforced errors cost her dearly.
"Today, I couldn't play my natural game. I committed a few unforced errors and that was the key of the game. The game was good for spectators but not for me because I lost. But I am happy with my overall performance this week," she said.
Axelsen claims men's singles title
Viktor Axelsen of Denmark steamrolled Chinese Taipei's Tien Chen Chou in straight games to emerge the men's singles champion at the India Open at the Siri Fort Sports Complex.
Third seed Axelsen crushed Chou 21-13, 21-10 in just 36 minutes to claim his maiden title in India.
Coming into the match, the Dane was regarded an outright favourite and he was the superior of the two shuttlers on the court as he controlled the proceedings from the word go.
Throughout the match, the Chinese Taipei shuttler was struggling to match his opponent's superior game and court coverage.
Axelsen adopted an aggressive approach and barring lapse in concentration at the start of the opening game, the Dane produced a blemish-less display.
After pocketing the first game 21-13, Axelsen made a slow start in the second game.
Chou made a promising start in the second game to race to a 5-0 lead but just when it seemed Axelsen was taking it lightly, he came back into his fore soon and pocketed a few straight points to take a 11-6 lead at the break.
From there on there was no stopping the Danish shuttler as he gave very little breathing space to his opponent to clinch the game 21-10 and seal the affair in his favour.
Final results (in order of play):
Women's doubles: Shiho Tanaka/Koharu Yonemoto (Japan) beat Naoko Fukuman/Kurumi Yonao (Japan) 16-21, 21-19, 21-10
Mixed doubles: Lu Kai/Huang Yaqiong (China) beat Zheng Siwei/ Chen Qingchen (China) 22-24, 21-14, 21-17
Men's singles: Viktor Axelsen (Denmark) beat Chou Tien Chen (Chinese Taipei) 21-13, 21-10
Men's doubles: Marcus Fernaldi Gideon/Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo (Indonesia) beat Ricky Karandasuwardi/Angga Pratama 21-11, 21-15
Women's singles: PV Sindhu (India) beat Carolina Marin (Spain) 21-19, 21-16
(With inputs from PTI)