Denmark Open 2017: Srikanth Kidambi stuns world champion Viktor Axelsen; Saina Nehwal, HS Prannoy out
India No. 1 shuttler Srikanth Kidambi made it a delightful finish to a day that had looked highly disappointing for Indian fans with the departure of Saina Nehwal and HS Prannoy from the $750, 000 Danisa Denmark Open in Odense, Denmark. The World No. 8 held his nerves to edge a tight middle game and then cruised through the decider to beat the world champion and World No. 1 Viktor Axelsen 14-21, 22-20, 21-7 in his own backyard for a semi-final berth on Friday.
Earlier in the day, Saina Nehwal crumbled to a 10-21, 13-21 defeat to the fourth seed and defending champion Akane Yamaguchi in a very one-sided quarter-final that lasted just 29 minutes. HS Prannoy could not produce his second round heroics where he beat Lee Chong Wei and went down 13-21, 18-21 to the top seed and World No. 2 Son Wan Ho.
Srikanth had lost his last three meetings to Axelsen
But it was Srikanth’s performance that would remain as the biggest talking point of the day. The Indonesia and Australian Open champion had lost his last three meetings to the Dane in straight games with his last defeat coming in Sepetmber’s Japan Open Superseries.
And it looked to be heading for a repeat of that as the second seed began the match in scintillating fashion, bagging the opener comfortably.
The second game was more closely contested with the two engaging in some fabulous attacking display. Srikanth led 10-7 at one point only to see his higher-ranked rival coming back to level it 10-10.
It continued to be extremely hard-fought and was even till 16-16 after which the World No. 1 inched ahead to 18-16 and then 19-17. Undeterred, Srikanth fought back to put the game back on level terms again at 19-19.
In a tense finish to the game, the two were once again tied at 20-20 before Axelsen hit his smash wide to concede the game to the Indian. The Japan Open champion was nowhere in the third game and looked pretty much clueless as the Indian thoroughly dominated for the win.
The eighth seed will now take on the World No. 15 Wong Wing Ki Vincent for a place in the final.
Saina’s second round finished less than 24 hours ago
World No. 12 Saina Nehwal looked nowhere close to the player who ousted the Olympic champion Carolina Marin in the first round. Nehwal’s second round match against the 12th ranked Nitchaon Jindapol finished just about 17 hours prior to her taking the court due to a delay made by a technical problem in the stadium. That might have had some effect on her for she looked very jaded and slow.
Lacking in energy for most of the match, she was outfoxed by Yamaguchi’s deceptions at the net most of the times.
Nehwal was in contention in the second game till 10-10 after which she failed to make any impact. Yamaguchi clinched seven points in a row from 13-12 to reach 20-12 and dash all hopes of the Indian.