Denmark Open 2018: Saina Nehwal enters final; Kidambi Srikanth bows out
On a day of contrasting fortunes for Indian shuttlers, Saina Nehwal entered the final of the Denmark Open 2018 but Kidambi Srikanth bowed out to world champion Kento Momota at this Super 750 tournament held in Odense, Denmark. Nehwal made short work of Indonesia's World No. 19 Gregoria Mariska Tunjung to register a 21-11, 21-12 win in 30 minutes.
This is the second time that the former World No. 1 has entered the final in Odense, having won the title six years ago in 2012.
Srikanth's title defence came to an end with a 16-21, 12-21 loss to the second-seeded Momota in 42 minutes. This was his fourth loss of the year to Momota.
Saina has been in terrific form this week in Denmark and it was validated by her wins over Japanese stars, Nozomi Okuhara and Akane Yamaguchi. She simply picked up from where she left and established her authority right from the start against Tunjung in the semi-finals.
With the young Indonesian struggling for precision on her shots, Saina raced ahead to 11-5 in no time. Tunjung's problem with the length on her shots continued as she soon fell behind 6-15 and then 8-17.
She, however, put up a brief fightback towards the very end of the first game and saved three game points before the Indian closed it out.
In the second game, Tunjung displayed some admirable fighting skills to draw level at 7-7 from 3-7 down. It was all she could do as Nehwal soon started going for sharp crosscourt smashes that kept the shuttle out of reach of the Indonesian.
From 16-10 up, she kept adding points to her kitty steadily and wrapped up the play on her second match point for a title clash with the World No. 1 Tai Tzu Ying.
Srikanth led Momota in the first game
Earlier, Srikanth showed signs of resurgence as he made a good start against his nemesis, Momota. Showing some good footspeed and explosive aggression, he even led 9-6 before interval in the first game.
The complexion of the match changed from thereon as the Japanese cut down on his errors and started varying the placement of the shuttle to trouble Srikanth.
He first levelled at 9-9 and then went up to 19-13, and closed out the game after the Indian saved three game points.
As Momota started looking almost invincible, Srikanth couldn't make use of whatever little chances he got due to his mounting unforced error count. Before long, the Japanese built a 10-6 advantage in the second game and then extended it to 14-9, after the former World No. 1 showed a very brief fightback in between.
Momota made use of his down-the-line smashes to perfection to reach match points, and converted on his first one to dash all hopes of Srikanth.