New Delhi: Former world no.1 Kidambi Srikanth was knocked out in the first round of the India Open, a BWF Super 750 badminton tournament, after he went down to Lee Cheuk Yiu of Hong Kong in straight games, 22-24, 13-21 here at KD Jadhav Hall on Wednesday.
The encounter marked Srikanth’s third loss to Lee in their four meetings, solidifying the Hong Kong player’s dominance in their head-to-head battles.
In the first game, Srikanth initially dominated the court and seized an early 2-point lead while engaging in a nail-biting battle against the formidable Lee from Hong Kong. His swift and strategic moves allowed him to surge ahead, commanding an impressive 11-7 lead by the time of mid-game break.
After the break, the Indian riding the wave of his earlier momentum, maintained a firm grip on his lead. However, the player from Hong Kong skillfully narrowed the scoreboard deficit to 15-14. Soon after, he secured a slender one-point lead before reaching a crucial game-point opportunity at 20-18.
As the intensity escalated, the game took a turn and Srikanth skillfully saved two game points, bringing the score to 20-all. The momentum of the match swung like a pendulum, with both shuttlers locked in a neck-and-neck showdown.
At a crucial juncture with the scores deadlocked at 22-all, Srikanth’s shot went wide, granting Lee a valuable game-point opportunity. Lee seized this chance with both hands and secured the first game, closing it out with a score of 24-22.
After the change of sides, Lee swiftly established a 5-1 lead in the early exchanges, which he expanded to an impressive 11-2 at the time of break. After mig-game interval, Lee maintained his dominance in the game, securing a substantial 7-point advantage. Srikanth staged a brief turnaround, notching up four consecutive points before an unfortunate wide shot.
Despite his relentless efforts to narrow the gap in scores and cleverly earn points with strategic net play, it proved insufficient for Srikanth to halt Lee’s momentum. The Hong Kong player ultimately sealed the game 21-13, securing a comprehensive victory and advancing to the second round.