Srikanth Kidambi continued his confident play as he notched up a thrilling 25-23, 21-17 victory over compatriot B Sai Praneeth to advance to the semi-finals of the Crown Group Australian Open 2017 Superseries in Sydney on Friday. This was just his second career win over Sai in seven meetings and his first since 2014.
They had earlier met twice this year with both the matches going in favour of Sai, the last of which was in the Singapore Open final where Srikanth squandered a one-game lead to slump to a defeat.
This time too, it was tough initially for the Indonesia Open champion Srikanth who trailed Sai and had to do a lot of catching up.
Sai had the early lead in both games
The Singapore Open champion led 4-1 and then 7-5 but Srikanth never gave up. The India No. 1 clawed his way back to 10-10 and the game continued to be evenly poised till 13-13 where Sai pulled the trigger again to go up to 16-13.
Then it was Srikanth’s turn to race ahead to 20-17 with three game points in hand only to see a determined Sai coming back to erase them all and thus ensued a dramatic ending to the first game.
The resilient Sai had a game point of his own which was saved by Srikanth and then the latter needed three more game points before he could finally wrap up the opener, 25-23.
In a mirror image of the first, the second game also started with Sai building a commanding lead of 3-0 which he extended to 4-2.
The undeterred India No. 1 soon made his way back into the game. Taking three points on the trot, he first led 5-4 and steadily built on it to increase the gap between him and his 16th ranked opponent.
At the interval, he had an 11-9 advantage. With confidence oozing from his game, the World No. 11 made it 13-10 soon after.
Even though Sai did close the gap to just a solitary point at 12-13, it did not perturb Srikanth, kept on bagging points through his effortless strokeplay.
He jumped ahead to 16-12 and had match points galore within minutes. Sai made a last-ditch effort to save one match point before Srikanth slammed it shut in 43 minutes.
The Indonesia Open champion will next face the winner of the quarter-final between fourth seed Shi Yuqi and Danish veteran Hans-Kristian Vittinghus.