India’s Kidambi Srikanth and B Sai Praneeth are set to lock horns in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open Superseries after winning both their respective second-round matches on Thursday. Srikanth and Praneeth were both stretched to three games by their opponents, but managed to come through in the end.
Srikanth, ranked 22nd, had a tough match-up against world No 1 and top seed Son Wan Ho of Korea, who led their head-to-head tally 4-3 before this game. Their last encounter was just last Sunday, in the semi-finals of the Indonesia Open Superseries Premier, which Srikanth had won. Son had on Wednesday ousted India’s Parupalli Kashyap in the first round in three games.
On Thursday, in the second round, Srikanth and Son kept up with each other till just after the interval, with the scores locked at 13-13, before the Korean pulled away and won it 21-15. Srikanth upped his ante in the second and raced to a healthy 11-5 lead at the interval, and eventually managed to win it 21-13 to force a decider.
Son fought back in the third and the match was going towards a tight finish, with Srikanth holding a slender 11-10 lead towards the halfway mark. That was to become 15-13 in favour of the Indian, before he won six consecutive points to clinch the match. The final score read 15-21, 21-13, 21-13 in favour of Srikanth. The match lasted just under an hour.
Sai Praneeth’s match against the Chinese Huang Yuxiang also started with both players going neck and neck towards the start. Sai Praneeth, however, pulled away after the break and won the game 21-15.
The second game also began the same way, with the scores locked at 9-9 at one point, but it was the Chinese who pulled away this point, taking a 19-12 lead. Sai Praneeth won four consecutive points to make it 19-16, but Huang held his nerve to take the game 21-18.
The match was shaping up to be a humdinger, before Sai Praneeth switched on his A-game and raced to a 11-6 lead in the third. The Indian managed to eventually comfortably win the third game 21-13, to set up a quarter-final clash with Srikanth.