Huelva (Spain): It was a redemption of sorts for former world number one and India’s top men’s shuttler – Kidambi Srikanth, who etched his name into the history books by becoming the first Indian man to reach the finals of the BWF World Badminton Championships.
Srikanth made a fine comeback to overtake compatriot Lakshya Sen in the men’s singles semi-final on Saturday. In a historic all-India last-four fight, it was 28-year-old Srikanth who had the last laugh after beating Sen 17-21, 21-14, 21-17 in a thrilling contest that lasted an hour and nine minutes. ,
While former world number one Srikanth has now given himself a real chance to win the top prize, Sen signed off with the first bronze, as Indian medalists great Prakash Padukone (bronze in 1983) and B Sai Praneeth (bronze in 2019). )
Winner in Showpiece. India’s PV Sindhu has won two bronzes in 2019 and two silvers in addition to the coveted gold, while the women’s doubles pair of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa also won bronze in 2011. Also, Saina Nehwal has a silver and a bronze. Name in marquee event
It was a huge moment not only for Indian badminton but also for world No. 14 Srikanth, who has suffered injuries and losses at the Tokyo Olympics this year since winning four Super Series titles in 2017.
The duo took part in some exciting rallies, with Srikanth being a step ahead initially but Lakshya managed to come back 4-4 and then 6-6 with some brilliant shots.
The 20-year-old took the lead 8-7 with a wide from Srikanth, but he soon leveled with a cross-court smash.
Srikanth conceded two points with two nervous looking shots as Lakshya took a three-point advantage at the break with a precise return to the backline.
Srikanth’s aggressive stroke was negated by his wide returns as Lakshya maintained his three-point lead after the gap.
The duo had some incredible rallies with Srikanth and some brilliant recoveries to make it 16-16, but he got into a net shot and then hit wide and long as the goal again went into the 19-17 lead .
Another comeback from Srikanth gave Lakshya three match points to win the opening game.
The duo continued to play at a breathtaking pace with Srikanth paying the price for their unforced errors.
Lakha was just sensational as he made some amazing saves and also created a tight net game to lead 8-4. The experienced Srikkanth kept calm and scored six out of the next seven points.
He won a long rally and then made two smashes and pushed the shuttle back to level the score at 9-9. Another straight down-the-line smash gave Srikanth a two-point advantage at the mid-game gap.
On 13-10, Srikanth sent the shuttle twice long to allow the target to narrow the gap. Lakshya made a mistake with his length and also lost a point in the net while Srikanth hit a smash to lead 16-12.
Lakshya won the next two points but Srikanth overtook his compatriot in another thrilling rally. Lakshya then made too many unforced errors to hand six game points to Srikanth, who returned to the contest with another cross-court smash. Srikanth started the decider with a brilliant drop shot and then dominated another fast-paced rally but a few errors put the target 4-4 ahead.
The duo shook neck and neck 7-7 before Srikanth sent the shuttle wide after a 43-shot rally.
Another wide shot from Srikanth and Lakshya went into a three-point advantage with a smash at mid-game.
Srikanth used his angled return to trouble his younger rival, making it 10-11 after the break. Lakshya, however, again managed to take a three-point lead with his brilliant defense and aggressive comeback. Srikanth claimed two crucial points and then Lakshya made rare unforced errors and allowed his senior rival to make it 13-13.
Srikanth pulled off another energy-sapping rally to take a slim lead of 16-15 and leveled 19-16 with a cross-court smash.
An exhausted Srikanth missed the front line, but a deceptive shot from Lakshya lost his mark to award three match points to Srikanth, who sealed it with a body return, which Lakshya sent over the net.