Srikanth storms into title clash

Indian to meet local hope Ponsana in final today

Indian shuttler K Srikanth entered the final of the Thailand Grand Prix Gold badminton tournament after registering a comfortable straight-game victory over local favourite Thammasin Sitthikom in the men’s singles event here on Saturday.

Srikanth, seeded 13th, took 43 minutes to overcome his opponent 21-14, 21-18 at the Nimitbutr National Stadium here.

He will take on World No 7 Boonsak Ponsana in the title clash.

In the first game, World No 61 Srikanth opened up a slender 6-2 lead but Sitthikom soon caught up with the Indian to make it 6-7. 

The 20-year-old then registered eight consecutive points to surge ahead 15-6. He kept on widening the gap to make it 20-7.

But just a point away from sealing off the opening game, the Thai bagged seven points on the trot to reduce the gap to 14-20. However, in the end, Srikanth pocketed the game comfortably.

Sitthikom came back strongly in the second game and turned the heat on Srikanth. Despite the Indian getting off to a good start with a 5-1 lead, the local shuttler fought his way back, and the two were tied at 7-7. 

Thereafter, it was a neck-and-neck contest till 17-17 before Srikanth managed to win three straight points to move ahead 20-17.

Sitthikom could win another point before the Indian shut the door on the Thai.

Despite being a step away from his maiden title, Srikanth chose to be cautious. “He (Ponsana) is a very good player but beatable. The fact that my fellow mates have beaten him recently actually gives me a lot of confidence,” Srikanth told PTI.

“Ponsana will star as favourite. The home crowd will root for him but I am not thinking too much now. I am relaxed. I will stick to my plans and do what my coach tells me,” added the World No 61, who was being advised from the fence by former player and current coach Madhumita Bisht.

Asked if he would play the Indonesian Super Series and Singapore Open, Srikanth said he would not be able to make it to Indonesia, where former World and Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat will play his last tournament.

“Unfortunately there are no night flights for Indonesia tomorrow and I will have to play the qualifiers there so I will miss out. But I will play Singapore Open,” he said.

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