Kidambi Srikanth fails to halt Loh Kean Yew’s dream run, settles for silver medal at World Championships

Unseeded Loh Kean Yew of Singapore beat Kidambi Srikanth 21-15, 22-20 in the men's singles final
Unseeded Loh Kean Yew of Singapore beat Kidambi Srikanth 21-15, 22-20 in the men's singles final
Suhas Nayse

Kidambi Srikanth failed to halt the dream run of Loh Kean Yew and had to settle for a silver medal at the BWF World Championships in Huelva, Spain on Sunday.

Twelfth seed Kidambi Srikanth tried his best but it was not enough against the high-flying Singaporean, who won 21-15, 22-20 in 43 minutes.

Srikanth’s bid to become the first Indian male player to win a gold medal at the World Championships was spoiled by the in-form Loh.

World No. 14 Srikanth, who edged past his compatriot Lakshya Sen in a grueling semifinal on Saturday night, could not deliver the same quality of display.

The unseeded Singaporean continued his giant-killing run to emerge as world champion for the first time. The pace and accuracy of Loh proved too hot to handle for Srikanth.

Playing in only his second World Championships, the 24-year-old Loh created history for Singapore. With this triumph, Loh captured his third title of the season and the most important one.

Kidambi Srikanth’s title-drought continues since 2017

The agonizing wait for Srikanth continued as the 28-year-old Indian shuttler has been chasing the title since 2017.

Srikanth was nervous to begin with and did not go all out against Loh in the final. The Singaporean took a two-point lead and appeared confident.

Srikanth bounced back from 1-3 down to race to a 9-3 lead. But Loh reduced the deficit to just a couple of points with a four-point burst.

Srikanth dished out some brilliant half smashes and cross-court dribbles to take a 11-7 lead at the break with two straight points.

Loh clawed his way back and then leveled at 11-11 with four straight points to put Srikanth under pressure.

Once he leveled the scores, Loh gained momentum and surged ahead at 17-13.

Although Srikanth fought hard, Loh did not cut down on his aggression.

Loh claimed the opening game 21-15 in 16 minutes after initially being 3-9 down.

Srikanth failed to utilize a solid start in the second game

Srikanth led 3-2 at the start of the second game and then made it 9-6 with his trademark down the line smashes on the right flank.

Loh did not panic and reeled off five successive points to take a 11-9 lead at the interval.

Srikanth drew level at 14-14 as he battled hard to stay in contention. The Indian star regained the lead with 15-14, thanks to a powerful half smash on the right flank.

At 16-14, Srikanth looked determined to force the decider but made a mistake and put the bird in the net. He also repeated the costly error in 18-16 as well.

Loh took advantage of Srikanth’s nervousness and raced to a 20-18 lead.

Srikanth did not give up and continued his fight. He saved two match points to draw level at 20-20. Loh then quickly pocketed two points to clinch the second game (22-20) and match.

Loh avenges earlier defeat against Srikanth

Srikanth squared off for the second time against Singapore’s Kean Yew Loh on the BWF circuit.

World No. 14 Srikanth beat the Singaporean youngster at the 2018 Commonwealth Games Mixed Team event 21-17, 21-14 in Australia.

24-year-old Loh stunned several higher-ranked players to reach the final. In the second semifinal, Loh Kean Yew shocked third seed Anders Antonsen of Denmark 23-21, 21-14 in an hour and 1 minute.

World No.22 created a flutter by knocking out Tokyo Olympic champion Viktor Axelsen in the first round. The rising star also accounted for India’s HS Prannoy in the quarterfinals on Friday.

Loh won two titles in 2021. He swung to recognition by claiming the men's singles crown at the Hylo Open (formerly SaarLorLux Open).

He also claimed the Dutch Open to break into the top-25 in the rankings. Loh had to be satisfied with the runner-up spot at the

Indonesia Open last month, losing in three games against Tokyo Olympic champion Viktor Axelsen.

Before the pandemic, Loh reached the finals of the 2019 Russian Open and 2019 Hyderabad Open.

On the other hand, it has been a lean patch for Srikanth in the last few years.

His last title came four years ago when he won the French Open in 2017. It was by far the best year for the Indian star, having triumphed at the Danish Open and Australian Open too.

However, he surprisingly lost his magic touch ever since that dream in 2017. He managed to reach the final of the India Open in 2019. It was the best result for him in the last couple of years.

Edited by Parimal


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