Defending champion Kidambi Srikanth’s campaign at the Indonesia Open ended with an opening-round loss to Japan’s Kento Momota on Wednesday, while PV Sindhu was taken the distance by Thailand’s Pornpawee Chochuwong before she managed to progress to the second round.
Former world No 1 Srikanth suffered his second successive defeat to the in-form Japanese in the last four days. Following a straight-game defeat in the semi-finals of the Malaysia Open on Saturday, Srikanth lost 21-12, 14-21, 15-21 in Jakarta.
Overall, it was Srikanth’s fourth consecutive loss to the former world no 2, who has been in impressive form since coming back from a one-year ban due to illegal gambling.
Srikanth came out with all guns blazing in the first game, taking his aggressive play to the Japanese, who was slow to get off the blocks. After a tight start to the game, the defending champion won eight straight points to take a massive 15-7 lead. Srikanth eventually went on to bag 10 game points, before Momota saved two of them. The Japanese eventually hit the net to concede the first game.
The second game began on a tight note again, even as Momota went on to hold a slender 11-9 lead at the interval. After the break, the Japanese switched on and began to dominate Srikanth. A few mistimed strokes from the Indian led to the game slipping away from him, even as Momota grabbed seven game points. Srikanth could only save one of them as Momota took the match into a decider.
In the decider, Momota produced some razor-sharp returns to move to a 8-5 lead. A brilliant adjustment at the net gave the Japanese another point as he stretched his lead to 11-6 at the switch of ends.
After the breather, Srikanth cut down the deficit to 10-12 and then 14-16, but Momota again found another gear and was unstoppable as he grabbed five match points and converted it without further ado. Srikanth’s body language had gone for a toss from the second half of the second game, which was the time Momota began his fightback.
Sindhu brought some smiles back in the Indian camp after seeing off Chochuwong 21-15, 19-21, 21-13, setting up a clash with Japan’s Aya Ohori. The Olympic silver medallist was asked some serious questions by the 20-year-old Thai, as she took a slender 11-10 lead into the first interval.
The Indian seemed to struggle with her timing initially but two cross-court smash and a misjudgement at the backline by her opponent helped Sindhu to lead maintain her lead as the first game progressed.
Sindhu showed great defence and seemed to have stepped up her pace as she soon moved to 19-14 and brought up five game-point opportunities after attacking her opponent’s backhand. A disguised shot ended the opening game in Sindhu’s favour.
Sindhu seemed to struggle with the length of her strokes as she hit long and short to allow Pornpawee control the second game early on. The Thai girl moved to a 7-2 lead but Sindhu recovered well to first claw back at 10-10 with six straight points, and then entered the interval with a one-point advantage when the Thai hit the net.
Pornpawee turned the table by making it 15-13, before moving on to 19-16 when Sindhu found the net. But the Thai blew the advantage as the Indian gained three straight points, including a good-looking smash, to claw back at 19-19.
A superb rally ensued, which left Sindhu sprawled on the court and handed a game point to Pornpawee. The Indian then hit the net and the Thai shuttler was back in the contest.
The duo split the initial 10 points in the decider before Sindhu managed to open up an 8-5 lead. The Indian held a four-point advantage after he unleashed a straight smash to enter the breather.
Sindhu continued to use her experience to outwit the Thai shuttler and won a net duel to make it 18-11. Two wide shots and it was the eight match points for Sindhu. Pornpawee saved one before Sindhu unleashed another smash to seal the contest.
Earlier, young Vaishnavi Reddy Jakka went down 12-21, 10-21 to Denmark’s Line Hojmark Kjaersfeldt. The men’s doubles pair of Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy stretched the world no 2 Chinese pair of Liu Cheng and Zhang Nan to three games before surrendering 21-15, 15-21, 17-21. In mixed doubles, Pranaav Jerry Chopra and N Sikki Reddy lost 12-21, 14-21 to fourth seeds Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong of China.
With inputs from PTI