India might have just found its newest badminton star.
K Srikanth, trainee of the Gopichand Academy, completed a stunning campaign at the Maldives International Challenge with a win over World Junior Champion Zulfadli Zulkiffli in the final on Sunday. The victory augurs well for the country because Zulfadli is seen as Malaysia’s brightest hope of the post-Lee Chong Wei era.
Zulfadli, who won the World Junior Championships by upsetting Viktor Axelsen of Denmark, was brought down by the seventh-seeded Srikanth 13-21 21-11 21-16.
What made Srikanth’s campaign particularly impressive was that he brought down at least two seasoned internationals in former Indian national champion Anup Sridhar and Czech Republic’s Jan Frohlich. Srikanth decimated the experienced No.2 seed Frohlich in the second round, beating him 21-5 21-18. Fourth seed Anup Sridhar was his next victim, falling rather embarrassingly in the third set of a 19-21 21-19 21-3 defeat.
Next up in the final was third seed Zulfadli. Srikanth lost the first game 21-13, but recovered to take the next two, 21-11 21-16, wrapping up proceedings in just over an hour for his first international title.