Kidambi Srikanth's poor run in the badminton court continued as he crashed out of the first round of the Malaysia Masters that is being held in Kuala Lumpur. The veteran went down to Chinese Taipei's Chou Tien Chen 17-21, 5-21 in less than half an hour to crash out of the event.
The number 12 ranked player in the world in men's singles, Srikanth seems to be falling behind as far as fitness and form goes, after he was unable to win a single tournament last year. He managed to make the finals of only one event in 2019 but went down to Viktor Axelsen of Denmark in the India Open in March last year in the summit clash. Srikanth, who reached the world number one rankings in 2018, also had to deal with a knee injury that further hampered his progress.
A total of 38 shuttlers will qualify for the 2020 Olympics, with the top 34 in the ranking list (a separate list where the players will be marked on the points earned from playing in tournaments within the Olympic Qualification Period) directly qualifying. Srikanth is ranked 24 in this list currently, and will need to pull up his game in the following months to ensure that he makes the cut for the mega event.
How the other Indians fared in the Malaysia Masters
HS Prannoy started the year with a bang as he stunned world number 10 Kanta Tsuneyama 21-9 21-17 to advance to the next round. He will, however, face a stiffer battle in Round 2 as he faces world number one Kento Momota of Japan on Thursday. Momota got the better of Indian Parupalli Kashyap in Round 1, defeating him 21-17, 21-16 in just under 45 minutes.
The other Indian who bowed out was Sai Praneeth, the World Championship bronze medal winner. He tamely went down to Denmark's Rasmus Gemke 11-21, 15-21.
The women stars, on the other hand, had better returns with both PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal booking their spot in the second round. The reigning world champion Sindhu took just 35 minutes to defeat Russia's Evgeniya Kosetskaya 21-15 21-13, and will now face Aya Ohori of Japan on Thursday.
Unseeded Nehwal too made a memorable start to 2020 as she brushed past Lianne Tan of Belgium 21-15 21-17 in their first ever meeting.