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  • Abu Dhabi Masters: Ashwini Ponnappa-Tanisha Crasto, Unnati Hooda clinch titles at Super 100 event | Badminton News

Abu Dhabi Masters: Ashwini Ponnappa-Tanisha Crasto, Unnati Hooda clinch titles at Super 100 event | Badminton News

World No 38 pairing of Ashwini Ponnappa and Tanisha Crasto started the tournament as the top seeds and lived up to the billing as they defeated Denmark’s Julie Finne-Ipsen and Mai Surrow in a three-game battle. The Indians won 21-16 16-21 21-8 in 58 minutes, overcoming a second-game blip when they had the finish line in sight.

In women’s singles, it was an all-Indian affair as 16-year-old Unnati Hooda overcame the challenge of 20-year-old Samiya Imad Farooqui. Hooda won 21-16 22-20 in 40 minutes to clinch the second Super 100 title of her career. She had previously won the Odisha Open in 2022.

Ponnappa and Crasto, the pairing of the veteran who has been around for more than a decade and an up-and-coming youngster, came into the tournament on the back of an impressive win against world No 13 Rena Miyaura and Ayako Sakuramoto last week in Finland. They built on that result this week where they started as the favourites. After an opening round bye, they steamrolled Farah Alhajji and Ghadeer Ali Altahri of the United Arab Emirates 21-3, 21-3.

The semifinal was an all-Indian contest as they defeated Sikki Reddy and Arathi Sara Sunil. Incidentally, Ponnappa and Reddy had been a pairing for a long time before ending their partnership last year with the former opting for a reset of sorts with the younger Crasto.

In the final on Sunday, Ponnappa and Crasto took the opening game rather comfortably and had a 15-10 lead in the second but the Danes fought back, aided partly by errors from the Indians. Finne-Ipsen and Surrow won 11 of the last 12 points to force the decider. Ponnappa and Crasto however, recovered quickly at the start of the third game and coasted to a win.

Festive offer

This was Ponnappa and Crasto’s first World Tour title, with their other triumph coming in the Nantes International Challenge.

In singles, both Hooda and Farooqui came into the final on the back of impressive wins in the last four on Saturday. Hooda defeated top seed and world No 46 Thet Htar Thuzar 21-18 21-12. That was her second win against a top-100 player this week, as she had also defeated Kisona Selvaduray of Malaysia earlier. Farooqui’s most impressive result also came in the semifinals as she defeated world No 57 and sixth seed Julie Dawall Jakobsen 21-9 19-21 21-17. Farooqui had lost to the Dane rather convincingly last week in the Dutch Open final.

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Hooda (world No 152) and Farooqui (world No 105) came into the final with those big wins but it was the former who hit the ground running. Hooda, who had beaten Farooqui on her way to the Odisha Open title as well, took the opening game on a run of five out of six points from 16-15.

The second game was an entertaining affair as Farooqui looked set to force a decider with a 15-9 lead but Hooda fought back superbly to take the match in straight games. The teenager actually went the distance in the singles event without dropping a single game.

In men’s singles, Kiran George and Raghu Mariswamy went the farthest as both of them lost their respective semifinals. George was the top seed at the event.

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