Fifth seed Kidambi Srikanth went down fighting 22-20, 13-21, 16-21 to second seed Chou Tien Chen after a brilliant fight in the quarter-finals of Denmark Open 2020. Srikanth's loss brings India's campaign in the competiton to an end.
India had sent a four-member squad to this prestigious BWF Super 750 tournament following the last-minute withdrawals of PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal and Parupalli Kashyap. With the badminton circuit restarting after a gap of seven months, there were a lot of expectations from Kidambi Srikanth, Lakshya Sen, Ajay Jayaram and Subhankar Dey.
However, only Sen and Srikanth made it past the opener as Jayaram and Dey both crashed out in the first round. With the 19-year-old Lakshya Sen too bowing out in the second round to Danish veteran Hans-Kristian Solberg Vittinghus, all hopes rested on a rejuvenated Kidambi Srikanth who looked close to his best form.
The 2017 champion began his title hunt with a 21-12, 21-18 win over World No. 52 Toby Penty where a few too many unforced errors made the second game competitive. The Indian star was able to polish his game further and put in a much better performance against World No. 49 Jason Anthony Ho-Shue whom he beat 21-15, 21-14.
It was a much-needed confidence boost ahead of his quarterfinal clash with his nemesis, Chou Tien Chen of Chinese Taipei. World No. 2 Chou had always had the upper hand in their rivalry, winning five of their past six meetings. It was, thus, an uphill task for the Indian to solve the Chou puzzle but Kidambi Srikanth looked to have come prepared for it.
Kidambi Srikanth squanders a bright start
With a barrage of attacking smashes, the Indian star had the early momentum. Kidambi Srikanth led 7-4, and even though Chou inched ahead to 11-10 at the interval, Srikanth saved a game point with a big smash and pocketed the first game 22-20.
The fifth seed stayed close on Chou's heels even in the second game after the latter looked to have freed up. A two-point gap at 11-9, however, widened further as the Chinese Taipei shuttler upped the ante, forcing Srikanth to commit unforced errors. The second game finally went to Chou at 21-13.
Srikanth produced some beautiful touches at the net and used his smashes once again to break his opponent's rhythm in the decider. In the end, Chou proved to be the steadier and stronger of the two as he sailed away to the win in 1 hour 2 minutes.
Indian shuttlers will next be in action at the SaarLorLux Open beginning on October 27 at Saarbrucken, Germany.Published 16 Oct 2020, 22:43 IST