Srikanth loses in India Open final

SENSATIONAL Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen with the trophy after defeating India’s K Srikanth in the final in New Delhi on Sunday. PTI

Viktor Axelsen held off a second game resurgence from Kidambi Srikanth to clinch the Yonex Sunrise India Open men’s singles title at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium here on Sunday.

Axelsen, runner-up at the All England Open, was sensational with his reach and returns to defeat Srikanth 21-7, 22-20 in front of the packed gathering, which vociferously cheered for both the players.

“It’s of course great to win the tournament. I am just happy and it is a confidence booster to win since Srikanth beat me in Denmark last time. It was nice of him to let me win here in India. Maybe next time I could win in Denmark and he could win in India!” Axelsen laughed.

“We were so close, and it is small things which makes the difference. So you never know what would have happened if Srikanth had won the second game.”

The women’s singles title was claimed by Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon who completed a hat-trick of titles here.

She beat the third seed He Bingjiao 21-15, 21-14 to emulate the legendary Lee Chong Wei in becoming the second singles player to taste glory thrice at India’s premier badminton event. She had earlier won the titles in 2013 and 2016.

“I learnt from the past when I lost to her and also from her match against Sindhu yesterday,” said Intanon.

Srikanth’s final was the much-awaited event. He was the lone Indian to appear in the final of the tournament after PV Sindhu went down to Bingjiao in the semifinals. But Axelsen was too strong this day. The World No. 4 Dane punched the shuttle at will and made Srikanth’s responses predictable.

He occupied the mid-court, and repeatedly breached the World No. 7’s defences with sharp smashes, which were low for Srikanth to intercept yet fast enough to ensure he could not get behind the shuttle to attack.

With the drift also assisting Axelsen’s side of the court, Srikanth could merely muster seven points in the first game. Things didn’t get better for him in the second game and he quickly trailed 1-6. Frustrated, he haplessly looked at coach Pullela Gopichand who was lividly giving instructions from the sidelines.

Fightback

From there onwards, Srikanth mounted a fightback. He hung on, took on the attack, and mixed up his pace. He levelled at 13-13 and got his himself two game points at 20-18 with a smash on Axelsen’s backhand. He, however, made errors to allow the Dane to level and then hold a match point. Axelsen converted with his customary smash after a tense rally and broke into a wild celebration.

“I think I gave him too many chances in the first set to attack and tried avoiding that in the second. I did fairly well at the 20th point, maybe if there would have been a decider, I would have had much better chances,” said Srikanth. “I think I didn’t play any differently but I could have tried something different.”

Results: All Finals: Men’s singles: 2-Viktor Axelsen (Denmark) bt 3-K Srikanth 21-7, 22-20

Doubles: Yang/Wang (Tpe) Bt Karandasuwardi/Pratama (Ina) 21-14, 21-14

Women: singles: Ratchanok Intanon (Tha) bt 3- He Bingjiao 21-15, 21-14

Doubles: 1-Greysia Polii/ Apriyani Rahayu (Ina) bt 3-Mei Kuan Chow/ Meng Yean Lee 21-11, 25-23

Mixed doubles: 1-Wang Yilyu/ Huang Dongping (Chn), 5-Praveen Jordan/Melati Daeva Oktavianti 21-13, 21-11.

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Srikanth loses in India Open final

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