Indian shuttler Kidambi Srikanth continued his brilliant form as he beat reigning Olympic champion Chen Long in straight games 22-20, 21-16 in the men's singles final to clinch the Australian Open Super Series title on Sunday. This is Srikanth's second consecutive Super Series title after he won the Indonesia Open Super Series crown. The Indian badminton star produced one of the best displays of his career to completely outwit and outplay the World No.6.
The Badminton Association of India (BAI) announced a cash award of Rs 5 lakh for Srikanth after he lifted the title.
The two players had met five times before the Australian Open final with the Chinese shuttler triumphing all five times.
We are really proud of the victory of @srikidambi in the Australian Open. I congratulate him for yet another wonderful win.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) June 25, 2017
Srikanth and Chen Long were neck-and-neck in the early exchanges but the Indian quickly hit his stride to go into the break 11-9 up. The Chinese shuttler made a mini comeback to take a 12-11 lead but Srikanth refused to give in.
The two players battled it out for supremacy and there was nothing separating the two at 20-20. Srikanth held his nerves to win two consecutive points to take the first game 22-20.
There was no looking back for the Indian after that. He started the second game like a bullet train and raced to a 6-2 lead. Chen Long once again fought back and won five points in a row to lead 7-6. But this time Srikanth was having none of it and upped the ante.
With the scores tied at 9-9, the No.11 ranked Indian started dominating the gameplay. He moved Chen Long around the court as he if he was playing an amateur. The Olympic champ had no answer to Srikanth's powerful overhead smashes and looked completely at sea as the Indian marched towards the title.
Srikanth soon opened a 16-13 lead and was out of sight as the scores reached 19-14. The Chinese player did manage to delay the inevitable by winning back-to-back points but Srikanth too did the same with the scores reading 19-16 to secure the game and the match.
Srikanth is finally coming out of the shadow of India's two women's singles stars PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal. He had reached the final of the Singapore Open where he was vanquished by compatriot Sai Praneeth.
Srikanth came back strongly from that defeat to clinch the Indonesia Open Super Series title and continued his giant-killing ways by now taking home the Australian Open crown.