HYDERABAD: Indian men shuttlers have been turning on the heat in the last few tournaments. A lot has already been said about each of their games and improvements in the past few months. The most noteworthy changes have been in Kidambi Srikanth and B Sai Praneeth’s games. Beating the top guns from the world has become a regular affair for both Gopichand Academy trainees.
In the ongoing Australian Open Super Series, the duo is continuing their rich spell of form and has entered the quarterfinals. While Praneeth got the better of China’s Huang Yuxiang 21-15, 18-21, 21-13, Srikanth stamped his authority over Korea’s World No 1 Son Wan Ho 15-21, 21-13, 21-13. This is the second time in as many weeks that the Indian beat the numero uno in a Super Series event — the previous occasion was in the semifinals of the recently-concluded Indonesia Open. Srikanth now owns a 4-4 head-to-head record against him.
With their respective pre-quarterfinal wins, both Indians will battle it out against each other on Friday. Though that ensures a guaranteed semifinal berth for an Indian, it will be a tough battle as both know the minutest aspects of each other’s games.
While Srikanth relies a lot on attack, the all-round Praneeth has the ability to attack as well as play defensively. It will be important to see if they manage to play their natural games. “This match will be very interesting to see as both players have performed really well. Srikanth has attacked well against top players and that has really worked for him. Praneeth makes you commit mistakes, and that’s where he cashes in,” veteran coach SM Arif told Express.
Though Praneeth enjoys a better head-to-head record against his senior (5-1), Arif still feels it might be Srikanth who moves into the semis.
“The way Srikanth is playing right now, I don’t see any reason why he shouldn’t win. I am not writing Praneeth off but, on current form, Srikanth should advance,” Arif added. “But fitness will be the key. The boy who has recovered better from the previous match could go the distance. But having said that, I still believe that Srikanth will advance to the semis,” he concluded.