Malaysia Open: Kidambi Srikanth goes down fighting to Chen Long

Kidambi Srikanth squandered a five-point advantage in the first game, while the second game was closely fought as well.

Kidambi Srikanth (right) went down in straight games to China's Chen Long.   -  AFP

A fighting Kidambi Srikanth suffered a straight-game loss to Olympic champion Chen Long of China to bow out of the men’s singles quarterfinals at the Malaysia Open here Friday.

The eighth-seeded Indian, who had reached the finals of India Open last week, blew a huge advantage in the opening game to eventually lose the quarterfinal match 18-21 19-21.

This was Srikanth’s fourth quarterfinal of the season.

Read: Sindhu crashes out of Malaysia Open

Srikanth blew a 16-11 advantage in the opening game, while in the second game he fought back from 7-11 down to level scores at 19-19 before ending up on the losing side.

The 26-year-old had a 1-5 head-to-head record against Chen Long, whom he had defeated in their last meeting at the 2017 Australian Open.

The Chinese showed great defence, playing some exceptional shots like a between-the-legs return to keep the spectators entertained at the Kuala Lumpur Sports City.

In the first game, the Indian opened up a 11-7 lead at the first break. He kept his nose ahead till 16-11 before Chen started slowly clawing back into the contest.

The Chinese drew parity at 17-17 before sealing the game with a cross court return that left the Indian stranded.

In the second game, Srikanth kept himself close to the Chinese before Chen unleashed a down-the-line smash to grab a 11-7 lead at the breather.

Srikanth made some simple errors like misjudging line calls, hitting wide and long and also mistiming shots as Chen led 16-8.

The Indian won a long rally when Chen went wide and then the Chinese lost a couple of more points near the net before attacking the Indians backhand to reach 17-11.

Srikanth kept breathing down Chen’s neck and reduced the margin to 17-18 with the Chinese falling in a heap of errors.

The Indian levelled the scores at 18-all and was 19-19 when Chen hit another long shot.

But the Chinese sent one at the backline to move to match point and sealed it when a fighting Srikanth dived full stretch but couldn’t keep the shuttle in.