After 245 days, Kidambi Srikanth slowly regains form to reach semi-finals
Former World No. 1 Indian badminton star Kidambi Srikanth is making ripples on tour again as his form shows promise once more.
Hailed as the next-big-thing in badminton, Kidambi Srikanth had scaled the heights expected of him in 2017-18 when he reached the perch of the BWF rankings as the World No. 1 but soon, his form had dropped, putting a question mark against this brilliant Indian badminton talent.
It has been a while since then and injuries had tampered with Kidambi Srikanth's confidence on the court and the COVID-19 pandemic only caused further damage, robbing Srikanth and countless other players of precious match-practice, but finally, the badminton season is picking up and with it, Kidambi Srikanth's form has stirred awake as well.
With the BWF tour restarting itself after the Tokyo Olympics, Kidambi Srikanth has returned to the courts and is once more delivering inspiring performances.
The silver medallist from the 2018 Commonwealth Games, Srikanth, showed his usual sparks of brilliance during the Europe leg of the BWF season, which comprised tournaments in Finland, Denmark, France, and finally, Germany. Although Kidambi Srikanth failed to make the cut for the Tokyo Olympics by a whisker, the former World No. 1 ensured that he has done plenty in 2021 to feel proud of.
Having reached the semi-finals of the Swiss Open 2021 in early March, Kidambi Srikanth once again reappeared in the semi-finals after a long hiatus of 245 days, at the 2021 Hylo Open. At the Swiss Open semi-finals on 6th March 2021, Kidambi crossed paths with World No. 2 Viktor Axelsen and went down fighting in straight games, 21-13, 21-19. In between, Kidambi played in 6 tournaments, meeting the World No. 1 Kento Momota also on two occasions, before blooming once more at the 2021 Hylo Open.
Contesting the semi-finals at the Super 500 in Germany, Srikanth took on the 2021 All England Open champion, Malaysia's Lee Zii Jia. Playing exactly 8 months 35 weeks later in another semi-final, Srikanth really pushed Lee Zii Jia to the extremes, making the young badminton sensation work hard for every point.
Both players, in fact, gave it their all in the contest and Srikanth ensured that there is never a quiet moment on the court - as he dashed for the smashes, slapped across cross-court winners and rekindled the magic he has at the net and attacked from all the corners of the court. In hindsight, Kidambi Srikanth almost tamed Zii Jia and the scoreline is enough to reveal the high octane nature of the contest the duo had - 21-19, 22-20, in a 44-minute tussle.
More than anything, Kidambi Srikanth's performance in the Europe leg reinstills hope for Indian badminton fans. With the Indonesia events due to begin in a few weeks' time, it can now be said with quiet confidence that we'll be seeing more of the Kidambi Srikanth greatness on the courts now, for longer durations in a tournament. If Srikanth can take stock of his Europe outing and add final touches to mend his game and cover up the minor chinks in the armor, rest, recover, work on his fitness and head back into the grind - it won't be a surprise to see Srikanth sailing into finals then!