Kidambi Srikanth has avoided a possible first round clash at the Hong Kong Open against Japanese world no.1 Kento Momota with the latter pulling out of the tournament. Srikanth has thus got a first round bye and will either face France's Brice Leverdez or compatriot Sourabh Verma. Momota had last week won the China Open, beating Chinese Taipei's Chou Tien Chien in an epic final that lasted nearly one and a half hours.
The final score stood 21-15, 17-21, 21-18 in his favour. This was his 10th title of the year and he is one of the favourites to win gold at the Olympics next year which will be held in his country.
The 25-year-old has won 12 out of the 15 clashes that he has had with Srikanth in his career. Momota had earlier faced B Sai Praneeth in the semi-final of the BWF World Championships in August on his way to the gold medal.
Srikanth will be looking for a turnaround in the tournament as his struggle to emulate his form in 2017 continues.
He recently fell out of the top 10 of the BWF rankings and slid to 13th in the most recent update of the rankings.
Meanwhile, India's Sourabh Verma qualified for the main draw of tournament after winning both his qualification round matches.
Sourabh defeated Thailand's Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk 21-15, 21-19 and Lucas Claerbout of France 21-19, 21-19 to make it to the main draw of the USD 400,000 tournament.
The first qualification match, which lasted for 45 minutes, started on an even footing, with Tanongsak replying every time Sourabh took the lead.
However, Sourabh managed to get to the break one point ahead. At 8-8, Tanongsak took the lead but Sourabh rallied to get back on level terms and then went on to win the game with a six-point margin.
The second game turned out to be a more closely fought contest. However, the Indian held his nerves and went on to win the game 21-19.
The second match against Lucas, which lasted for 47 minutes, was a tighter one that the first as the Indian had to be at his absolute best to emerge victorious.
Sourabh will be playing his first round men's singles match on Wednesday.