New Delhi: India's men's doubles pair of Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy ended the season on a high by claiming their maiden Grand Prix title with a straight-game win over Thailand's Bodin Issara and Nipitphon Puangpuapech in the finals of Mexico Open.
The third seeded Indian pair, who had reached the finals of US Open and Dutch Open, finally lay their hands on a grand prix title when they defeated Bodin and Nipitphon 22-20 21-18 in a 35-minute battle at the Centro Deportivo Chapultepec AC on Sunday.
"They're the no 1 pair of Thailand, so it was tough match for us as we had lost to them in the last tournament (K&D Graphics Grand Prix in California). But we played really good and it was our day," Manu told PTI.
"We played without any pressure and there were no unforced errors from our side. Basically we played amazing badminton. It was one of the best matches ever," he added. It was a gritty performance from the Indian duo as they never gave up in the face of adversity despite falling behind a couple of times during the opening game.
Manu and Sumeeth produced a gruelling game of badminton as they fought their way to a slender 11-9 lead at the break but the Thai pair drew level after the interval. The Indian pair then once again opened up a 15-12 lead, which once again was reduced by Bodin and Nipitphon with two points.
Manu and Sumeeth, however, zoomed to a 20-16 lead but the Thai pair once again clawed back with a four-point burst but the Indian duo didn't give them any chance after that and closed the opening game in their favour.
In the second game, Manu and Sumeeth didn't allow the Thai pair to ever threaten them as they lead right from the start to end to shut the door on their rivals.
"This is our first big title in this year. And it's really a good motivation and end to this year. It's a big advantage. This win will definetely give a big boost to our Olympic qualification campaign," said Manu.
For the 22-year-old from Meerut, this season was more special as he had started the year with a final finish in the mixed doubles event with K Maneesha at the Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold and ended it with a title with Sumeeth.
"It was a satisfying year as I started the year with a GP gold runners up and ended with a GP title. And in that tournament I was awarded the best men player trophy in January," he said.
Manu and Sumeeth played a lot of Grand Prix, Grand Prix Gold and International Challenge tournaments this year to reach a career-best ranking of World No. 17 in August.
The duo won the Belgian International Challenge and Lagos International challenge, besides reaching the finals of US Open Grand Prix Gold, Dutch Open Grand Prix, Prague Open International Challenge and Guatemala International challenge.
Talking about his association with partner Sumeeth, Manu said: "Me and Sumeeth started playing internationally in 2013. Our first tournament together as a pair was at the senior nationals in September, 2012 and we had won that."
Asked if they had scheduled their tournament keeping the Olympic qualification in mind, Manu said: "No not actually but after we performed well in US Open, we started taking it seriously and planned each and every tournament according to that. So basically US Open changed everything."
Manu also attributed the win to his coaches and parents.
"I would like to thank my coach Pullela Gopichand and also doubles coach Tan Kim Her. He has been supporting us very well and we've improved a lot training under him. I also like to thank BAI officials and a great thanks to my parents because of them I'm here today," he signed off.