Young Indian shuttler Kidambi Srikanth edged closer to his third Super Series Premier title as he overcame Hong Kong’s Wong Wing Ki Vincent comfortably 21-18 21-17. The 25-year-old faces Korea’s Lee Hyun Il in the final, who defeated World No. 2 Son Wan Ho in the other semi-final 25-23 18-21 21-17.
Kidambi Srikanth looked unfazed by his balanced 2-2 head-to-head record in career meetings with the Hong Kong opponent, as the man from Guntur took just 39 minutes to wrap things up at the Odense Sports Park on Saturday in the $750,000 Denmark Open semi-final duel.
Srikanth has had a brilliant year so far, where he has won the Indonesia Open and Australian Open and reached the final of the Singapore Open, and his confidence showed during the game when the Indian dominated his rival after splitting the initial six points.
Srikanth’s lengths were difficult for Wong to pick up and he was leading by a comfortable 11-6 in no time. However, the Hong Kong contender came back stronger after the interval cutting the lead to 10-13 before Srikanth further extended it to 15-10. The point exchange continued with the score reaching 15-18 though Srikanth hardly seemed out of control.
His patience finally paid off as he went into game-point with Wong's return getting buried in the net. A late net error by Srikanth only saw the inevitable getting delayed as he soon pushed the shuttle to the back of the court that a mispositioned Wong sent sailing wide as the Indian won the first game 21-18.
The second game was trickier than expected as Wong showed real determination to make it 3-4 after Srikanth had started brilliantly by taking a 4-0 lead. The game went on a phenetic pace as Srikanth showed excellent control and athleticism to dive and then smash to get a point making it 8-6. However, Wong looked undeterred by those misses and ended leading 11-9 at the interval.
Srikanth got back his sharpness after the lemon break as he won three straight points to close in on 14-12 that saw Wong committing two unforced errors. That was pretty much the confidence Srikanth needed as he remained unstoppable after that. After a jump cross court smash took Srikanth to 16-15, he wasted no opportunities to capitalize on it.
After extending his advantage to 18-15, a net error from Wong saw Srikanth get another point but he hit it wide. The 25-year-old was clearly the fitter as he pushed the shuttle to the back to grab three match points and eventually converted it after winning a long rally.
Srikanth, who has previously won four Superseries titles in his career, including two this year, is one step away from the fifth title. Speaking after the game, he said, “feel great. I really wanted to do well. Our game is similar but I was more patient and though I made some errors initially I learnt quickly. Next is Lee whom I have not played and I think he will be a tricky player to beat.”
Though the prospect of a young blood coming up against the 37-year-old Lee Hyun Il tilts the balance in Srikanth’s favour, Lee is known for his brilliant footwork and shuttle control. Stating him as ‘the textbook of badminton’, coach Pullela Gopichand said, “It’s wonderful to see Lee Hyun Il, the way he has played. He actually has one of the finest footwork in the sport. It’s
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