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Sikki realises her dream

V.V. Subrahmanyam

— Photo: Vivek Bendre

GOOD SHOW: Sikki Reddy in action against Chase Tiffiny in their semifinal match.

PUNE: Fifteen-year-old N. Sikki Reddy realised her dream of taking on champion shuttler Saina Nehwal in a championship final, when she posted a facile 21-16, 21-9 win over third-seeded Currier Chase Tiffiny of Malaysia in the women’s singles semifinals of the third Commonwealth Youth Games at the Shiv Chhatrapathi Sports Complex here on Thursday.

With Aditya Prakash, R.M.V. Guru Sai Dutt and Saina Nehwal too entering their respective finals, the badminton singles competition in the Games is now an all-Indian affair. Aditya made his maiden final in an international event with a 21-14, 21-17 win over Martin Campbell of Scotland.

Fresh from her training stint in Indonesia, Sikki Reddy came up with a percentage game. Preferring the drops and placements to the corners, the Hyderabad girl played the waiting game to perfection and let her Malaysian opponent make mistakes. A tense Tiffiny obliged by not getting any of her strokes in.

“I am eagerly awaiting for the final tomorrow. I know it should be tough but that is what I have been dreaming in the last few months,” said Sikki Reddy later.

Sluggish start

In the men’s singles semifinal, unseeded Aditya Prakash overcame a sluggish start to come up with an impressive array of strokes against the third-seeded Campbell. The Mandya shuttler, a trainee of Vimal Kumar, raised his level in the second game when it seemed the Scottish opponent was in a mood to make amends.

The 18-year-old Aditya essayed some stunning smashes down the line and cross-court returns, catching his opponent on the wrong foot repeatedly.

“I have been longing to get the feel of being there in the final for quite some time,” he said later.

The stage then was set for the men’s singles title-favourite Guru Sai Dutt to serve another reminder of his growing stature. He did that in style with a 21-13, 21-12 win over fourth-seeded Rietvelde van Paul of Scotland in 25 minutes. The highlight of his win being the half-smashes which he played with stunning regularity. All that Rietvelde could do was watch in admiration as the Indian delighted the crowd with a quality display.

To cap a memorable evening for the host, champion performer Saina Nehwal ensured there were no dramatic twists to the script with a fluent 21-12, 21-10 win over fourth-seeded Riou Panuga of England in 20 minutes.

She later admitted that she had to counter the drift from both sides on the court.

Earnest contest

“I don’t think there will be any friendly contest tomorrow. Both of us will be playing for a medal,” was Saina’s veiled warning to her Hyderabad teammate ahead of the final.

Late in the evening, Sikki Reddy combined well with P. C. Thulasi to defeat the New Zealand pair of Jessica Jonggowisastro and Mary O’Connor 21-13, 21-13 in the women’s doubles semifinals.

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