Kidambi Srikanth: ‘Best phase in my career’

Kidambi Srikanth defeated reigning Olympic and World Champion Chen Long in the final to lift his second Super Series title of the year.

Kidambi Srikanth poses with the winner's trophy after defeating Chen Long in the Australian Open final in Sydney on Sunday.   -  AFP

Champion shuttler K. Srikanth, who defeated Chen Long in the Australian Open Super Series final on Sunday, was surprised by his victory over the reigning Olympic champion.

Speaking to Sportstar after shocking the reigning World Champion in the Super Series final in Sydney, Srikanth said he was delighted with the way he won the title, not giving any easy points and playing to his strength.

"I must say everything went right for me in the final," he said. "It is special for sure coming up against someone like Chen who has been playing so well in this championship."

"I was normal before the final. Didn't feel any pressure at all. My approach was simple — to keep the shuttle in play, not to miss scoring chances and at the same time not to make too many unforced errors. Glad it really worked well and should thank the coach Mulyo (Handoyo)," Srikanth said.

"This is the best phase in my career at the highest level and winning three Super Series is something which I would cherish forever."

Morale booster ahead of World Championships

"It is great for Indian badminton that we (Srikanth, Praneeth, Prannoy) have done so well in this last one month. It shows the kind of ability we have. Personally, I would love to be more consistent, " Srikanth said.

"Three Super Series titles ahead of the next big event — world championship — is a huge morale booster and I will have to work really hard to win a medal there," he said.

For someone who dedicated his Indonesian Open win to his father — having won it on Father's Day — a smiling Srikanth: "This Australian Open is to all those who supported me right through including coaches Mulyo, Gopi sir, fellow players and all those unsung staff at Gopi Academy."

‘Memorable’

Chief national coach Pullela Gopichand said: "It has been a truly memorable performance to beat someone like Chen Long and glad that Srikanth showed he had the game to beat anyone on his day."

"The best part of his win being Srikanth showed the composure, net play and aggression from the back of the court," a visibly elated Gopichand said.

"This win should also mean his evolution to the next level as a world-class player, fully matured now with the desired consistency," he said. "I was also pleased when he had to change the strategy half way through the second game and he did that in style."

When asked whether the coach spoke to his pupil ahead of the final, Gopichand said: "I did talk to him yesterday but frankly did not discuss about the strategy part for the final for the Indonesian coach (Mulyo) is there doing a great job. I just spoke to him about recovery and stay away from the phone."

"It is a great achievement to see Indians win four Super Series titles in four weeks. Honestly, this trio of Sai, Srikanth and Prannoy have done a great job," Gopichand said.

"Honestly , I was expecting a couple of Super Series titles for India but this has been a fantastic show. Yes, hoping one of the girls to win one of the titles," he concluded.

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