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Badminton

2019 India Open: Kidambi Srikanth falters on the big stage again

2019 India Open: Kidambi Srikanth falters on the big stage again
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By

Santhosh

Published: 31 March 2019 12:35 PM GMT
Denmark's top shuttler and World no 4 Viktor Axelsen defeated Kidambi Srikanth 21-7; 22-20 in the 2019 India Open final, in a game, which had the moments but for the most parts was lopsided. Heading into the match Srikanth had everything in his favour, a fairly good head to head record, a passionate crowd and a local stadium where he has tasted success before. But Srikanth did little to make use of it as he faltered on the big stage yet another time in the last 2 years. The first game started at a breakneck pace where the points were shared equally among both. Both players were suffering from the shuttle flight in the initial rallies as the loft balls where consistently getting out for both players. The scores were close at 7-6 at that point, but only one player recovered from that and managed to keep control of the rallies and that was not the Indian. While leading 8-7, Axelsen switched gears and went into attacking play with consistent netplay and well-placed smashes. Axelsen went into the break leading the first game 11-7.
Kidambi Srikanth finishes his campaign as runners up! Srikanth had a lingering issue of not starting matches on the front foot and every match he played had to go the third game. This was evident yet again as post break Axelsen left from where he continued and Srikanth stood there not being able to retrieve simple balls that where well within his reach. Axelsen took 10 consecutive points from there and Srikanth was shell shocked himself about the display. The nature of his body language stunned the home crowd into silence as Axelsen wrapped the first game 21-7. Also Read: 2019 India Open Badminton Live: Day 6
The second game started in the same fashion as Srikanth started to hit loft balls which went well wide, a stark contrast to Axelsen who suffered from the same in the first game initially, but managed to control his pace & tactics to the game. Srikanth trailed 1-5 into the start of the second game. Cheered by the local fans, Srikanth managed to up his momentum and tried to bridge the gap with patient net plays & controlled smashes. It worked quite well as Axelsen struggled to return in as Srikanth edged close to bridging the gap and was quite successful in it, though the Dane continued to maintain the lead as he went into a 11-9 lead heading into the break. The post break game was when Srikanth decided to go full attack and try his hand. It worked as Srikanth came from down 9-11 to level 12-12 as the stage was set for the final part of the second game. Roared by the Indian crowd, Srikanth took the lead for the first time in the match as he went 14-13. Axelsen wasn't ready to give up any space for Srikanth to open up a wild lead as he remained in the game within touching distance of Srikanth as he trailed Srikanth 16-17. Srikanth gave his all and earned two match points and was well poised to take the second game leading 20-18, before nerves struck him in. He sent a diagonal drop just wide much to the disappointment of fans who thought it went in and from there he crumbled in as Axelsen held his nerve, albeit with a bit of luck as the net drop tipped off luckily to the other side. But the damage had been done three points earlier when Srikanth was poised to take it, but let himself down. It has been a disappointing last two years for Srikanth as he fails to deliver at the big stage, and with the Olympic qualification just one month short, he needs to work more on his mentality in clutch time. As they say, the more experience you gain, the more you develop, and what better opportunity than the upcoming Malaysian open.
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