India’s only remaining shuttler in the men’s singles draw of the badminton world championships, Srikanth Kidambi, was sent packing in the quarter-finals by world No 1 Son Wan Ho on Friday. The Korean won 21-14, 21-18 in a match that lasted 49 minutes.
The two players were tied in their head-to-head record 4-4 prior to this match and Srikanth had won their last two encounters – both played earlier this year – so he would have been confident of beating his higher-ranked opponent. However, that wasn’t to be.
The first game was a scrappy affair as both players looked to test the waters. Son had a slender 11-9 lead at the interval before slowly extending the gap between him and his opponent. After 20 minutes of play, Son took the first game 21-14, leaving Srikanth with a mountain to climb.
Nothing went right for the world No 10 in the second game as Son raced to a 11-4 lead at the break. Srikanth even lost his shoe while backtracking and was lucky to not injure himself via the resulting slip. However, the second half of the second game saw a completely different animal take on the world No 1, as Srikanth finally brought his A-game to the match.
From a 5-15 deficit, Srikanth unleashed a flurry of smashes and drop shots, along with winning two sensational rallies, to make it 12-16. Srikanth won seven straight points in the process, before Son won the next two to put the pressure back on the Indian.
Srikanth fought back to make it 18-19 before a silly error gave Son match-point. A player of his class was not going to let the opportunity slip away as Son closed out the game 21-18, thereby sealing his progress to the semis.
Srikanth’s exit means that Prakash Padukone will continue to remain the only Indian man to win a singles medal at the world championships. India’s medal hopes now lie with the women – Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu.