Heartbreak for Srikanth

Kidambi Srikanth

Kidambi Srikanth


28-yr-old wins silver, becomes first Indian to make men’s final; Sen bags bronze

Huelva (Spain): Kidambi Srikanth's fine run in the BWF World badminton Championship ended with a silver-medal finish after he lost the men's singles summit clash to Singapore's Loh Kean Yew in straight games here on Sunday.

Srikanth went down 15-21, 20-22 in 43 minutes. Former world number one Srikanth lost the first game after leading 9-3, as his opponent from Singapore staged a fine comeback. The Indian lost the first game in just 16 minutes.

Srikanth fought better in the second game but Yew was too good on the day, emerging the winner.

The 24-year-old Yew stunned world number one and reigning Olympic champion Viktor Axelsen in the first round of the men's singles event at the prestigious championship.

Nevertheless, Srikanth still etched his name in the history books by becoming the first Indian man to reach the finals of the championships after his come-from-behind win over compatriot Lakshya Sen on Saturday.

In a historic all-Indian men's singles semifinal, it was the 28-year-old Srikanth who had the last laugh as he saw off Sen 17-21 21-14 21-17 in a thrilling contest that lasted an hour and nine minutes.

While former world number one Srikanth has now given himself a real chance of winning the top prize, Sen signed off with a maiden bronze, joining the legendary Prakash Padukone (bronze in 1983) and B Sai Praneeth (bronze in 2019) as the Indian medal winners at the showpiece.

India's P V Sindhu has won two silvers, besides two bronze and the coveted gold in 2019, while the women's doubles pair of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa had also won a bronze, in 2011. Also, Saina Nehwal has a silver and a bronze to her name in the marquee event.

It was a huge moment not only for Indian badminton but also for world No. 14 Srikanth, who had endured injuries and a loss of form which saw him miss the Tokyo Olympics this year, since winning four Super Series titles in 2017.

The two engaged in some exciting rallies with Srikanth being a step ahead initially but Lakshya managed to claw back at 4-4 and then at 6-6 with some superb shots. The 20-year-old grabbed the lead at 8-7 with Srikanth going wide but he soon drew parity with a cross-court smash.

Srikanth conceded two points with two nervous looking shots as Lakshya grabbed a three-point advantage at the break with a precise return at the backline.

Srikanth's aggressive strokes were negated by his wide returns as Lakshya maintained his three-point lead after the interval. The two played some incredible rallies with Srikanth making a few superb retrievals to make it 16-16 but he rushed into a net shot and then hit wide and long as Lakshya again went into the lead at 19-17.

Srikanth's another return going wide gave Lakshya three match points and he pocketed the opening game. The two continued to play at a breathtaking pace after the change of sides with Srikanth paying the price for his unforced errors. Lakhsya was simply sensational as he made some astonishing saves and also dished out a tight net game to move to a 8-4 lead.

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