HYDERABAD: There is hardly any player in the world right now who can come in the way of ace Indian shuttler Kidambi Srikanth and victory. Cashing in on his superlative form, the former World No 3 breezed past reigning Olympic and world champ Chen Long, to clinch his second successive title in two weeks — the Australian Open Superseries.
Srikanth dispatched his Chinese opponent 22-20, 21-16, in just 45 minutes. Long, who was unbeatable against Srikanth in five meetings before this tie, was no match for his opponent’s crosscourt smashes and delicate net play.
Srikanth was able to rattle the former World No 1 with his lightning pace. Longer the rallies went, Long was forced into making errors, close to the net. Barring a few unforced errors, Srikanth dominated the proceedings in the first game. During the entire game, Long managed to lead in points only once, at 14-12. But that was not sufficient to stop the Hyderabadi to take the game 22-20.
Pumped up after the first game, Srikanth approached the second game with confidence. At the mid-game interval, he led 11-9. The lead was detrimental as the Chinese were never able to catch up. Twice in the match, Long looked flummoxed when Srikanth managed to return his body smashes, and get points out of those reaction shots.
From there on, it was evident that the Indian had managed to outplay his opponent.
Highly pleased with how the match turned out for Srikanth, chief coach of the Indian badminton team Pullela Gopichand said,
“I would place this win over his China Open win in 2014.That’s because he has won two titles consecutively, and has beaten all the top players. It is an outstanding achievement.”
“It was a blessing in disguise that he got injured in December last year. That gave us a lot of time to work on his fitness, make new strategies. That phase has brought out the best in him,” Gopichand added.
With the World Championship scheduled to be held in August later this year, the champion shuttler is now headed for a short break to fine-tune his game. The time off from competitions now will give a chance for the coaches to bring in new ideas for him.
“Srikanth doesn’t play any tournament after this Superseries keeping in mind the World Championship. His body should recover from the workload of playing back-to-back tournaments and also travelling. In the meantime, we will have to come up with new strategies for him.” BAI announces Rs 5 lakh
Himanta Biswa Sarma, Badminton Association of India president, announced a cash reward of Rs 5 lakh for Srikanth. He was given the same amount for his win in Indonesia last week.
Sportspersons from the country and the world over hailed his success and congratulated him.