Axelsen beats Srikanth to lift India Open title

Viktor Axelsen beat Kidambi Srikanth 21-7, 22-20 to lift the men's singles title at the India Open 2019.

Viktor Axelsen had earlier won the India Open in 2017.   -  Special Arrangement

Viktor Axelsen continues to be on a roll. Looking fiercely determined to win back his World No. 1 spot, the lanky Dane got the measure of Kidambi Srikanth after saving two game-points to regain the men’s singles in the India Open badminton here on Sunday.

The World No. 4, who won 15 straight points to open a 3-0 lead in the second game, battled from 18-20 down to win 21-7, 22-20. This was Srikanth’s fourth defeat to Axelsen in five encounters since March 2017.

After Srikanth failed to retrieve from his back-hand, Axelsen was quick to toss away his racquet and black tee-shirt into the crowd. In the time between he won the match and received the trophy, medal and the cheque of $26,500, Axelsen kept pumping his fist in jubilation, a reflection of what it meant for him to win the title again.

In 2017, Axelsen won here and went on to claim the World title. So far this year, he has figured in three finals, winning the Spain Masters and besides finishing runner-up in the All-England championships.

Ratchanok Intanon defeated China’s He Bingjiao 21-15, 21-14 in a lop-sided contest.   -  Special Arrangement

 

On a day of one-sided finals, the 2013 champion and former World champion Ratchanok Intanon, too, regained the women's singles title by stopping China’s He Bingjiao 21-15, 21-14 in a contest that did not rise to expectations.

For Srikanth, who won in 2015 by beating Axelsen in the final, the biggest takeaway from the 36-minute defeat was the way he could fight back from 9-12 in the second game to hold two game-points.

The match, where some of the rallies were played at a furious pace, saw the players fight on an even keel in the second game after Axelsen ran away with the opening game in just 11 minutes.

Srikanth who got back his confidence following some fine touch-play at the net in the second game, forced several errors from the Dane and slowly looked like setting up the decider, like in most of his matches this week.

However, it was at 18-20 that Axelsen’s courageous play paid off. After Srikanth found the tram-line, Axelsen pounced on a short return and made it 20-all. A favourable net-chord brought in match-point and Axelsen closed out a long rally with a forehand cross-court that left Srikanth stretching low on his backhand.

Reflecting on the match, Srikanth said, “I think I gave him too many chances in the first game to attack. I did fairly well in the second, and maybe, if there would have been a decider, I would have had better chances.”

Final results (suffix indicates seeding):

Men singles: 2-Viktor Axelsen (Den) bt 3-K. Srikanth 21-7, 22-20.

Women singles: 4-Ratchanok Intanon (Tha) bt 3-He Bingjiao (Chn) 21-15, 21-14.

Men doubles: Lee Yang and Wang Chi-Lin (Tpe) bt Rickey Karandasuwardi and Angga Pratama 21-14, 21-14.

Women doubles:1-Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu (Ina) bt 3-Chow Mei Kuan and Lee Meng Yean (Mal) 21-11, 25-23.

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