World No 9 Kidambi Srikanth has been the victim of his own lofty standards, so to speak, in 2018. After enthralling the world of badminton by winning as many as four Superseries tournaments in 2017, Srikanth has hardly been able to reproduce the same form this year.

Since the French Open last year, which he won, Srikanth has played 11 tournaments on the Badminton World Federation’s circuit and has failed to reach the final in a single one of them. His best performance in a BWF tournament since last year’s French Open is two semi-final appearances this year, in Malaysia and Denmark. Srikanth has reached four quarter-finals this year, but has also failed to reach the last-eight stage as many times.

Srikanth’s best performance outside the BWF circuit has been a runner-up finish at the Commonwealth Games, where he was beaten by the legendary Lee Chong Wei in the final.

The two tables below show how Srikanth has performed since winning the French Open last year:

BWF World Tour

Tournament Result
World Superseries Finals 2017 Round robin, failed to reach semis
India Open 2018 Round of 16
All England Open 2018 Round of 16
Badminton Asia Championships 2018 Quarter-finals
Malaysia Open 2018 Semi-finals
Indonesia Open 2018 Round of 32
BWF World Championships 2018 Round of 16
Japan Open 2018 Quarter-finals
China Open 2018 Quarter-finals
Denmark Open 2018 Semi-finals
French Open 2018 Quarter-finals

Other tournaments

Tournament Result
Commonwealth Games 2018 Runner-up
Badminton Asia Championships 2018 Quarter-finals
Asian Games 2018 Round of 32

However, what is also interesting to note is out of the 10 BWF tournaments he has played this year, he has lost to a certain Kento Momota in five of them. Momota is in the midst of an unbelievable run after his return to the circuit, following the end of his 12-month ban for visiting an casino.

Momota has played in nine finals this year and won six of them, including the BWF World Championships. After starting the year ranked 48th in the world, he took only nine months to reach the summit. Since September 27, nobody has been able to displace him from the top of the rankings.

Srikanth faced Momota at the Malaysia Open, Indonesia Open, China Open, Denmark Open and French Open. The Indian failed to beat the Japanese in either of those tournaments. When you face the world’s best player in 50% of the tournaments you play, how much of a chance do you really have?

The only other shuttler Srikanth lost to more than once this year was the legendary Lee Chong Wei. Srikanth lost to the Malaysian two times, but that was in non-BWF tournaments – the Commonwealth Games and Badminton Asia Championships.

That being said, Srikanth has also lost to lower-ranked shuttlers such as Lee Dong Keun, Daren Liew, Huang Yuxiang, and Iskandar Zulkarnain – all once – this year. Putting the blame entirely on Momota’s superb form would be unwise, but it cannot be denied that Srikanth perhaps did not have lady luck on his side a lot while the draws were being made this season.

Srikanth plays at the China Masters next week and isn’t in the same half of the draw as Momota. Can he make the most of it this time?