Glasgow: India’s best medal hope in men’s singles at the badminton world championships, Kidambi Srikanth, admitted that he probably had the worst possible day in office against world No 1 Son Wan Ho on Friday.
The 10th-ranked Indian went down 14-21, 18-21 in 49 minutes in the quarter-finals at the Emirates Arena and prolonged India’s 34-year wait for a men’s singles medal in the flag-ship event for another year.
Srikanth said that nothing really worked for him against the world’s top-ranked player, in spite of coming into the quarter-final clash on a high of winning two back-to-back Superseries titles in Indonesia and Australia. Srikanth had also beaten the Korean in both those campaigns and probably started as the favourite despite the inferior world ranking.
However, things never got going for Srikanth from the start as his net game was found wanting and the strategy to start slowly didn’t really work against an opponent who is known for his steady approach.
Too many mistakes
“I don’t know what I could have done differently today,” Srikanth said after the match. “I tried almost everything and nothing worked today. I know the ultimate thing is to keep the shuttle in and not to make many mistakes, but that didn’t really happen for me today. I could have cut down on those mistakes.”
It was only in the second game with the scoreboard reading 4-11 in Son’s favour that Srikanth began to push the pace and brought out those aggressive smashes that have been his trademark. He first won seven points in a row to make it 12-16 and then another streak of four points allowed him to close the gap to 18-19 before an error at the net changed the momentum.
The 24-year-old, however, wasn’t willing to blame the slow start on nerves. He said he wasn’t thinking so much about the occasion but somehow the mistakes just kept creeping in and affected his momentum. “Probably my strategy wasn’t right today at the start,” he added. “And by the time I found out what was working it was too late.”
Son, meanwhile, insisted it was a revenge of sorts for him after losing to Srikanth twice in two weeks earlier this year. The 29-year-old said he was very depressed after the second loss to Srikanth, at the Australian Open, and was determined to turn the tables on the biggest stage.
In fact, the Korean Federation had employed a battery of psychologists to work with him after the losses and they would be happy that the 29-year-old kept his cool when Srikanth began making a comeback to win.
“Today I am really happy with my performance because after entering many world championships this is my first semi-final,” the Korean said. “For my semi-final I will see who wins between Lin Dan and Wong Wing Ki Vincent and then I will prepare really hard for it tomorrow.”
He added, “When Srikanth was coming back in the second set and won seven points in a row I was getting very nervous, so I was just telling myself one point at a time, because if I lost the second one who knows what could of happened.”