After a week full of spectacular matches, the champion of the men’s singles at the Indonesia Open has been crowned. Srikanth Kidambi defeated Japanese qualifier Kazumasa Sakai in straight games 21-11 21-19 in a high-quality match to clinch his second Super Series Premier crown.
While his performance was spectacular at the very least, his heartfelt gesture at the end of the match was even more special. As soon as he hit the winning body smash, Srikanth dropped his racket and ran to hug coach Mulyo Handoyo, who also was beaming with joy as he ran onto the court to congratulate his ward.
Handoyo is an extremely popular figure in Indonesia, given his role in coaching the legendary Taufik Hidayat, who is a legend in the south-east-Asian nation. He was roped as a coach to assist Pulella Gopichand earlier this year and in an earlier interview, he had stated that he saw a future champion in Srikanth.
His prediction certainly came true today as he Srikanth coasted to a two-game win over his Japanese rival. Since Handoyo’s arrival, there has been a string of success for India’s singles players – from PV Sindhu’s twin titles in Lucknow and Delhi, Sai Praneeth’s double in Singapore and Thailand, and Srikanth’s current win along with his runners-up finish at the Singapore Open.
At the post-match interview, Srikanth was struggling to control his emotions and paid tribute to Handoyo. “His contribution to my game has been incredible,” he said. “He has already made a special place in my heart.”
Srikanth also praised the audience, who had been in full voice over the week and created a fantastic atmosphere during the games. “Indonesia is the best nation when it comes to badminton. I would like to thank the fans for their support,” stated Srikanth.
Not just Srikanth, the week has been memorable for another Indian shuttler – HS Prannoy. The man from Kerala, who had been out of form for a while, made a fantastic run in the Indonesia Open, that culminated in a heartbreaking semifinal loss against today’s runners-up Sakai.
Prannoy, on his road to the semifinal, had defeated the legendary Lee Chong Wei in straight games in the second round and followed it up with an astonishing win over China's Chen Long, the reigning Olympic champion.
Handoyo’s stint has just begun and if this is a sign of things to come, fans across can brace themselves for even more victories in the coming months!