India No. 1 men’s singles shuttler Kidambi Srikanth gave his all but still could not prevent the German World No. 15 Marc Zwiebler from taking the win in the quarter-finals of the 2016 Japan Open Superseries in Tokyo on Friday. The eighth-seeded Indian saved a match point in this 58-minute thriller but Zwiebler managed to eke out the 18-21, 21-14, 21-19 in the end.
With this win, the German levels his head-to-head record with Srikanth at 2-2. This is his second victory over Srikanth at this venue after notching up another three-game win two years ago.Zwiebler goes on to meet the top seed and World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei in the semi-finals on Saturday.
The 14th ranked Indian produced a spectacular effort to produce a massive comeback and clinch the first game 21-18. Zwiebler had the game in control and led 11-4 at the interval after taking seven points in a row.
He extended his lead further to 15-11 only to see the Indian turn around things and even the score at 16-16. Oozing confidence and determination, the former World No. 3 grabbed the opener as Zwiebler was unable to stop his charge.
Things, however, looked different in the second game. His superb effort did take a lot out of him and the German, who has formerly been World No. 10, too was at his very best. Srikanth did manage to close the gap to 11-14 but he could not prevent Zwiebler from levelling the contest.
In the decider, Srikanth had the early momentum and led 11-7 with some fantastic attacking display. He had the clear lead till 16-13 after which the scene changed.
A resilient Zwiebler came charging back and a tired Srikanth found it hard to counter his shots. It was a tight battle towards the closing stages of the match but it was the lower-ranked player who inched ahead to have two match points at 20-18, one of which was saved by Srikanth before Zwiebler slammed it shut.
With this loss, the Indian campaign comes to an end at the Japan Open Superseries. Srikanth had earlier beaten two of his compatriots in reaching the quarters. In the first round, he overcame a stiff challenge from Parupalli Kashyap while in the second round, he won when Ajay Jayaram retired after the first game due to an ankle injury.
HS Prannoy too had participated in this tournament and bowed out to the second seed Viktor Axelsen in the second round.
Published 23 Sep 2016, 13:03 IST