World No.13 Kidambi Srikanth’s run at the Australian Badminton Open came to an end on Saturday after losing to World No.12 Hans-Kristian Vittinghus in the semi-final. The Danish shuttler edged the opening game 22-20 before racing on to win the match by claiming the second set 21-13.
After a dreadful first half of 2016, which saw him crashing out in the initial rounds of the tournament one after the other, India’s top male singles player, Kidambi Srikanth, made a much better start to the new season reaching the semi-final of the Australian Badminton Open. World No. 12 Hans-Kristian Vittinghus was the opponent for the Indian in the last four, and Srikanth would have been confident of winning the match after holding a 2-1 head-to-head record against the Dane.
With both players separated by just one place in the World rankings, the match was predicted to be a tight one to call, and it proved to be one. World No.13 Kidambi Srikanth made a good start to the match by winning the first point, but Vittinghus followed him and took a two-point lead at 4-2. Srikanth came back and levelled it up by forcing Vittinghus to return to the net two times as both players refused to give up. But, Vittinghus held the upper hand with him looking much more dominant in the court than the Indian. The dominance soon reflected in the points too as the Dane raced ahead pocketing one point after another. With the Dane at a 14-9 lead, it looked like an uphill battle for the Indian. However, Srikanth refused to give up and found his way back into the match with some powerful smashes to outsmart Vittinghus.
Although the Dane picked three points between Srikanth’s resurgent 8-point run, the Indian levelled it up at 17-17. Two challenges from Vittinghus to refer the decision decided the course of the match from there on. He lost the first challenge when the scores were tied at 18-18, but the next one went his way. A smash to the right of Srikanth was called out, but the referral showed it catching the edge of the line. The crucial point gave Vittinghus the impetus he needed, and he marched on to reach the game point at 21-20. Srikanth gifted the game to him then by placing one outside the court.
The first set proved to be the crucial difference between the two as Srikanth looked a shadow of his previous self in the second. The Indian looked lost at times against Vittinghus who went from strength to strength in the second game. The Dane kept the rallies long and forced errors from Srikanth to take a big lead. Vittinghus went into the break with an 11-6 lead and added four more points in a row to leave the Indian with an uphill task to get back into the match. However, that did not happen. Although Srikanth produced a late fightback, it proved to be too little too late for him as the Dane took the game 21-13.
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