Kidambi Srikanth yet again failed to find a counter to Kenta Momota’s level of percentage play as the Indian went down 21-12, 21-16 in just 44 minutes in the men’s singles quarterfinal of the All England badminton championship in Birmingham on Friday.

Srikanth’s loss also ended India’s campaign at the BWF World Tour Super 1000 event as Saina Nehwal had earlier lost to Tai Tzu Ying is straight games in the morning session.

India’s most successful men’s singles player in terms of number of Superseries titles had lost seven straight matches against the Japanese star heading into the match. It was clear that Srikanth needed tonnes of patience to just stay in the hunt against Momota before trying to find the winning touch.

He started in his trademark brisk fashion, winning three points with quick net taps and booming smashes before Momota engaged him in the first long rally of the match that lasted over 40 shots and ended with Srikanth making an error in judgement near his backhand back line.

It was just the start of a series of slug-fests as Momota kept engaging Srikanth in long rallies, playing the percentages as he expertly does, and showing enough patience to either wait for his opponent to make a mistake or find a winner himself.

His game plan aims at frustrating the opponent and getting under their skin and once he achieves that Momota tends to run away with the match.

He tore away from Srikanth at 9-9 in the opening game, winning nine straight points as the Indian began getting more impatient with every passing minute. The point that probably summed up the Indian’s state of mind was when he worked hard to stay in the rally and then unleashed a booming cross court jump smash with a hope of finding a winner and could only see Momota picking it up calmly and placing it close to the net with his opponent left dumbfounded.

Srikanth did show the heart to fight after that as he saved two game points but a flick smash and a follow up tap was enough for Momota to pocket the game.

The second game saw more of the same as Momota engaged Srikanth in a 46 shot rally, moving the Indian all across the court and the 26-year-old finally hitting the shuttle in the net while trying to push the pace on the net lift.

Momota then won eight of the next nine points to take an 11-4 lead at the mid game interval.

The lead probably allowed the world No 1 to lower his guard a bit as Srikanth gained some ground on him, even attracting applause from the commentators following a flick winner at the end of a 39-shot rally and then a powerful cross court smash.

But those instances were far and few as Momota earned eight match points. Srikanth did manage to save four of them but then it was too tall an ask to save another four as the Japanese sealed his first semi-final berth in the prestigious tournament.

Momota will now play Ng Ka Long Angus, who defeated Tommy Sugiarto 16-21, 21-14, 21-15 in the other quarterfinals. The second semi-final will see former champion Shi Yuqi face off against the winner of the all-Danish match between Viktor Axelsen and Jan O Jorgensen.