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Thailand Masters 2020: Kidambi Srikanth, Sameer Verma suffer round 1 exits, dent Tokyo Olympics qualification chances further

Kidambi Srikanth
Kidambi Srikanth
Modified 22 Jan 2020

What's the story?

Kidambi Srikanth and Sameer Verma have both crashed out of the 2020 Thailand Masters Super 300 tournament in Round 1. 

The background

Former World number 1 Kidambi Srikanth has been on a dismal run since 2019 and suffered a series of early exits in various tournaments last year. The 26-year-old had also pulled out of the ongoing Premier Badminton League and chose to participate in the Thailand Masters instead. The ace Indian shuttler is currently ranked 14th as per the latest BWF World Rankings. 

However, Srikanth is ranked 26th when it comes to the BWF World Rankings for Olympic 2020 Qualification. As per the qualification rules, a player must have his ranking in the top 16 by 26th April for being eligible to participate in the Olympics. For this to happen, it is important for Kidambi to do well in the tournaments he participates in till the qualification cut-off date. 

Earlier in 2020, Kidambi bowed out in the first rounds of Malaysia Masters and Indonesia Masters, both Super 500 tournaments.

Meanwhile, current World Number 29 Sameer Verma also did not have the best of starts to his 2020 season. He lost to Tommy Sugiarto in Round 1 of Indonesia Masters 2020 and suffered a Round 2 loss to Lee Zii Jia at the Malaysia Masters 2020.

The heart of the matter

Sameer Verma was the first Indian shuttler in action at the ongoing Thailand Masters in Bangkok. 7th seeded Lee Zii Jia of Malaysia defeated the Indian shuttler 21-16, 21-15 in the Round 1 encounter which lasted 38 minutes. 25-year-old Sameer did play a few good strokes during the match but Lee was always in control and defeated him for the 2nd time running.

Sameer Verma.
Sameer Verma.

On the other hand, Srikanth lost 21-12, 14-21, 11-21 to Shesar Hiren Rhustavito in a 48-minute Round 1 match. Shesar had dumped Kidambi Srikanth out in Round 1 of Indonesia Masters 2020 as well. The ace Indian shuttler had the chance to settle the score at the Thailand Masters but it was not to be.

Kidambi started well and won the first set, just like he had at the Indonesia Masters. The 26-year-old looked at his best during the first set and won it rather comfortably. However, the Indonesian shuttler turned things around in the next two sets and handed Srikanth another defeat, which is his third straight opening-round exit in 2020. Shesar now has a 4-0 head to head record against the Indian shuttler.

What's next?

These two losses at the Thailand Masters 2020 have dented the chances of qualifying for the Olympics for both Kidambi and Sameer. There are seven more tournaments till April 26 and the two Indian shuttlers must make the most of them if they want a ticket to Tokyo. 

Later in the day, HS Prannoy and Saina Nehwal will also be in action at the Super 300 tournament. 

Saina Nehwal.
Saina Nehwal.
Published 22 Jan 2020, 12:02 IST
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