Kidambi Srikanth has suffered his third straight quarter-finals loss but says Indian badminton has a bright future, after injury woes sent the fourth seed packing from the Hong Kong Open.
India’s top-ranked men’s player was the first Indian to reach number one in the world badminton rankings in April but has slumped since his loss to Malaysian great Lee Chong Wei in this year’s Commonwealth Games final.
Srikanth’s success on the international circuit despite recurring injuries and a struggle to maintain fitness has nonetheless inspired a surge of interest in the sport in India, as has high-profile women’s world number four PV Sindhu.
“We’ve been doing well here and there. But I really want to make it a consistent performance,” he told AFP after his Friday loss to Kenta Nishimoto.
“I’m improving in that particular area, being consistent around the tournaments we play. I think we will all definitely have better results in the coming years.”
Srikanth struggled to get low against Nishimoto and blamed defensive mistakes for his 21-17, 21-13 loss to the Japanese eighth seed.
He plans to use the days ahead of next week’s Syed Modi International back home to work on his return to form.
“Before that I really want to look at myself,” he said.
“I’m not really 100% fit and I’m having small injury worries. I just want to talk to my physio and coaches first before I get on court again.”
Eighteenth-ranked Sameer Verma was the final Indian player sent home from the tournament Thursday after his shock three-game loss to hometown hero Lee Cheuk Yiu in the final eight.
Lee, who sheepishly admitted to AFP afterwards that he had never expected to make it so far in the tournament, fought hard to qualify on the opening day but had a dream run to the semis after second seed Shi Yuqi’s first-round retirement.
A roaring crowd gave Lee enough fight to break away from Verma in the decider after the 47th-ranked Hong Konger looked set to collapse after his second game loss.
He faces Nishimoto in Saturday’s semis draw.
In the women’s singles, India’s Sindhu was sent packing in the second round after a razor-edge two games against Sung Ji Hyun, who will take on world champion Ratchanok Intanon.
“It was a very close one yesterday,” Srikanth said of Sindhu’s ouster. “I feel luck wasn’t on her side.”
Sindhu’s progression guaranteed her a berth in Guangzhou for next month’s World Tour finals.