HYDERABAD: India’s top badminton players Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth took a big step on way to reaching the semifinals at the World Super Series Finals by securing second consecutive wins in their respective groups.
Srikanth, who reached a career-high world number six in the rankings on Thursday, celebrated his rise by beating eighth-ranked Tommy Sugiarto of Indonesia 21-18, 21-13 at the Hamdan Sports Complex. It was Srikanth’s first win over the Indonesian.
World number four Saina extended her domination over South Korea’s Sung Ji Hyun with an emphatic 21-12, 21-18 victory. It was Saina’s fifth win against Sung in six career meetings though the Indian had lost the last time they played in the 2013 Denmark Open.
The 21-year-old Srikanth, who came from behind to beat Kento Momota of Japan on Wednesday, dominated the 38-minute tussle with the Indonesian. The Indian came out with amazing winners and won the net battle against the more experienced Sugiarto.
It was a close game at the start as Sugiarto forced a few errors on the Indian, who could not judge the shuttle well. Srikanth was 4-0 up but after that, for a brief moment, he hit a few of them wide. It was seven-all and he took a one point 11-10 lead into the break. On resumption, there was renewed vigour in Sugiarto’s game. But an unflustered Srikanth kept going for aggressive and calculated strokes during the key moments of the game to win it.
Sugiarto tried to stay in the next game with a more cautious approach. However, forcing his senior opponent into uncharacteristic errors, Srikanth turned on the heat. He produced sizzling winners with his precision smashes that had the Indonesian on the wrong foot. He plays Jan O’Jorgensen in his final group match for a place in the semifinals.
Saina’s game was keenly contested and she held a slender 11-9 lead at the break. The Hyderabadi ace then changed gears from 17-16 and ran away with the game and match. She next faces another South Korean, Bae Yeon Ju, in her final match in Group A.