India created history by stunning 14-time champions Indonesia 3-0 in the final to win their maiden Thomas Cup title on Sunday, May 15.
It was a Super Sunday for the entire Indian badminton fraternity as the nation finally ended its jinx in the 73-year-old tournament.
One of the heroes for India's triumph was Kidambi Srikanth. World No. 11 Srikanth stunned current Asian Games champion Jonatan Christie in straight games to seal the fate of defending champions Indonesia.
World Championships silver medalist Kidambi Srikanth took 48 minutes to down the world No. 8 Christie 21-15, 23-21 to help India register a spectacular 3-0 win.
Kidambi Srikanth's parents and his family members were ecstatic after India's dramatic Thomas Cup triumph. They were thrilled to see Srikanth’s outstanding run in the competition, which propelled India to their maiden Thomas Cup title.
Kidambi Srikanth was the only player in the 2022 Thomas Cup to win all his matches
Kidambi Srikanth was the only player in the entire Thomas Cup this year to win all his men’s singles matches. The 29-year-old was in such dazzling form that he lost only three games in the week-long competition.
Srikanth’s elder brother Nandagopal Kidambi was not surprised by this unbeaten run as he has seen the former world No. 1 player's journey from the beginning. He told Sportskeeda in an exclusive interaction that Srikanth is a devoted team player.
“Srikanth always gives more than a 100 percent in team events. He always likes to play for team championships. Srikanth has raised his level of play and wants to contribute to the team's victory. I have seen since childhood that he enjoys the atmosphere and teammate support while playing in team events."
The 30-year-old Nandagopal, himself an international badminton player, gave the example of Commonwealth Games and other team events where Srikanth has done well for the country.
“Srikanth has helped India win the mixed team championship gold medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, Gold Coast, Australia. India won bronze medals in both the Asian Men's Team Championships in 2016 in Hyderabad and 2020 in Manila. Srikanth played an important role in both the medals. He likes to play for the country and gives that extra effort while doing national duty."
Nandagopal, who is known as 'Nandu' in badminton circles, also praised his younger sibling for delivering in pressure situations.
Kidambi Srikanth and Nandagopal started playing badminton together in Guntur
Since there is only a one-and-a-half year gap between the two brothers, they grew up playing badminton together and have many common friends.
“I have seen Srikanth playing even better than this Thomas Cup. Throughout his career, he produced many memorable performances. Having said that, I must admit that Srikanth is almost close to his best in this Thomas Cup. He was determined to achieve Thomas Cup glory for the country. He was pumped up and very focused. We normally don’t disturb him when the tournament is on. I am sure he must be experiencing one of the happiest days of his life like we are experiencing right now."
Since his parents were in Guntur, Nandagopal watched the match live on TV at his Hyderabad home.
“I was screaming to the top of my voice as all the Indian players were giving their best and dominating the formidable Indonesians. It was an emotional moment for all of us when Srikanth converted that match point with a powerful smash against Jonatan Christie. I spoke with all the Indian players on a video call after the match but couldn’t talk with Srikanth as he had to do other formalities as captain of the side.”
Kidambi Srikanth’s father, KVS Krishna, and his mother, Radha, are holidaying in their native place Guntur, Andhra Pradesh. They did not watch the match live on TV but kept track of the game.
The proud father of Srikanth explained his reasons for not watching his son's matches live.
“I don’t see any matches of Srikanth live on TV. I follow the scores on the badminton website. I do it deliberately because it adds pressure and gives you nervous moments while watching it on TV. After the match, I watched Srikanth’s matches on YouTube. I am very happy for India’s first win in the Thomas Cup. I feel proud that my son played a big role in India’s triumph."
Thomas Cup gold medal compensates for disappointment of missing Tokyo Olympics, says Kidambi Srikanth's father
It is no secret that Kidambi Srikanth was terribly disappointed at not representing India at the last Olympics. His father said that the Thomas Cup victory more or less compensates for missing the Tokyo Olympics.
“Srikanth was very upset when he could not make it to last year’s Olympics. There are several reasons for this as due to the pandemic, many tournaments had been cancelled. He kept on working hard and got his due this year. After winning a silver medal at the World Championships, he has now won the gold medal in the Thomas Cup. He did not give up and bounced back like a champion."
After initial badminton training in Guntur, Krishna sent both his sons Srikanth and Nandu to the Pullela Gopichand Badminton Academy in Hyderabad. Srikanth has been training in Hyderabad for more than a decade-and-a-half.