K Srikanth’s bid to win his first international title in more than year ended in a heartbreaking loss against Viktor Axelsen in the men’s singles final of the India Open Super 500 tournament in New Delhi on Sunday.
Playing his first BWF World Tour/Superseries final since December 2017, Srikanth showed a few sparks of brilliance before going down 7-21, 20-22 in 36 minutes at the KD Jadhav Indoor hall in the capital.
Both players were looking to win their second title in Delhi but it was Axelsen who proved to be the better player on the day. The former world champion had won the title in 2017.
The win also levelled the head-to-head between the two players to 5-5.
The first game was a one-sided affair as Axelsen wrapped it up in just 12 minutes going from 9-7 up to 21-7. The former world champion kept playing Srikanth in the back court and finished the points the low-height returns from Srikanth whose game was marked with number of unforced errors.
It was looking to be a similar story in the secon game as the Dane took a 1-5 lead. But Srikanth slowed down the game with longer rallies and lifted the shuttle higher and further back on Axelsen’s court.
The Indian trailed 9-11 at the break but returned with a calmer approach and reduced his net errors. He led for the first time in the game at 14-13 and looked to create more chances after the new-found belief.
But Axelsen never let the game slip and every time Srikanth looked to run away, the world number five would force him to commit an error. Srikanth still looked good to win the game when he had two game points at 20-18.
A wide drop shot from Srikanth and later a smash from Axelsen levelled it 20-20. Srikanth was unlucky as the shuttle hit the net cord and fell on his side of the court which meant Axelsen had the match points. He did not waste anytime converting it with a powerful smash.
In the women’s singles final, Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon defeated higher ranked He Bingjiao 21-15 21-14 in 46 minutes. This was the first time Intanon had defeated the Chinese in five meeting.
Top-seeded Chinese pair of Wang Yilyu and Huang Dongping wasted no time in winning mixed doubles final against Praveen Jordan and Melati Daeva Oktavianti 21-13, 21-11 in 34 minutes.
Another top seeded pair, this time in women’s doubles were victorious. Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu of Indonesia took 51 minutes to beat Chow Mei Kuan and Lee Meng Yean 21-11 25-23.
But a surprise win came in the last match of the day as the Chinese Taipei pair of Lee Yang and Wang Chi-Lin comfortably defeated Ricky Karandasuwardi and Angga Pratama 21-14 21-14 to claim the men’s doubles title.