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Australian Open Badminton: Srikanth Kidambi stuns World No. 1 again, to meet Sai Praneeth

FEATURED COLUMNIST
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1.59K   //    22 Jun 2017, 13:28 IST
Srikanth Kidambi
Srikanth Kidambi continues his merry way

Indian badminton ace Srikanth Kidambi put up yet another stunning performance to show the door to the World No. 1 Son Wan Ho for the second time in as many weeks, that earned him a quarter-final berth at the Crown Group Australian Open Superseries in Sydney on Thursday. He will now be meeting Sai Praneeth in a blockbuster all-Indian last-eight clash after the latter also needed three games to oust the World No. 25 Huang Yuxiang.

Srikanth did not have the best of starts against the Korean and dropped the first game, 15-21. But he stormed back in incredible fashion to snatch the next two games comfortably as Son continued to struggle against the Srikanth onslaught and ultimately lost, 21-15, 13-21, 13-21 in 57 minutes.

Last week at the Indonesia Open too, Srikanth was locked in a gruelling three-game battle with the World No. 1 in the semi-finals but could only eke out the win with a 21-19 score in the decider.

This time there was no such repeat. This validates his increased confidence level after clinching the Indonesia Open last Sunday which happens to be his first BWF title in 17 months.

Srikanth has lost twice to Sai this year

Sai Praneeth
Sai Praneeth looks to have stepped up a gear in 2017

Up now is another crucial match for him as he lost his last showdown to his compatriot Sai Praneeth even after leading the Singapore Open for more than the half the match. Sai, meanwhile, has more conviction in his abilities and the Singapore win has totally brought as a change in his attitude.

A day after notching up his first victory over Indonesia's Tommy Sugiarto, the Thailand Open champion Sai rebounded from a middle game deficit for his maiden triumph over the Chinese Huang Yuxiang, 21-15, 18-21, 21-13. The marathon lasted 1 hour 4 minutes.Dr

It is interestingly Sai, who has the edge over Srikanth with a whopping 5-1 lead in their head-to-head record. Srikanth has already suffered two defeats at the hands of his academy mate with the first one coming when the former World No. 3 was still making his way back from injury at January’s Syed Modi International.

It remains to be seen if the title win can make a difference in Srikanth’s way of handling Sai's game.

Meanwhile, the women superstars – Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu are still in the contention and have their matches scheduled later in the day. While the fifth-seeded Sindhu takes on China's Chen Xiaoxin, the defending champion Nehwal faces Malaysia's, Soniia Cheah.

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