Srikanth downs Long to win Australian Open Super Series

It was a Sunday to remember for Kidambi Srikanth as he defeated Chen Long 22-20, 21-16 to win the Australian Open Super Series. With this win, the Indian badminton ace has two successive Super Series in his kitty.

With this win, Kidambi Srikanth has two successive Super Series in his kitty.   -  PTI

It was a Sunday to remember for Kidambi Srikanth as he defeated Chen Long 22-20, 21-16 to win the Australian Open Super Series. With this win, the Indian badminton ace has two successive Super Series in his kitty.

Trailing early in the opening game, Srikanth came back strong and led the first game 11-9 at the interval. It went down the wire after the interval, but Srikanth ensured that there was no slip-up. Maintaining his cool, the Indian sealed the deal 22-20.

In the second game too, Srikanth reigned supreme as he took a 11-9 lead in the break, and coming back from it, kept things simple. With everything moving as per plans, Srikanth won the battle against Long to win the coveted title.

It was Srikanth’s first win in six encounters with the Rio Olympic champion with Chen defeating the Indian at the Sudirman Cup on Australia’s Gold Coast last month.

Indians have now won four of the six Superseries this year.

Srikanth is in career-best form after returning from injury in April. He made it to the Singapore Open final and won the Indonesia Open ahead of the Australian event.

Chen is on a comeback trail from a lengthy injury and has not won a Superseries title since the 2014 Denmark Open.

Olympic bronze medallist Nozomi Okuhara earlier downed Akane Yamaguchi 21-12, 21-23, 21-17 in an all-Japanese women’s final.

BAI announces cash award

To celebrate Srikanth’s success, the Badminton Association of India (BAI) has announced a cash reward of Rs 5 lakh for the shuttler. “We are really very proud of Srikanth for his achievements. It is simply phenomenal. He has not only made the whole country proud once again but has etched his name among the best and no word would enough to praise Srikanth,” Dr. Himanta Biswa Sarma, president of Badminton Association of India, said.

Noted industrialist and diversified business conglomerate Mahindra Group Chairman, Anand Mahindra, said he would “personally” hand over a TUV300 to Srikanth for winning the Australian Open Super Series title.

“OK. His fighting spirit has made us proud. A STEAMROLLER deserves a Battle Tank. I’ll personally gift @srikidambi a Mahindra #TUV300,” Mahindra tweeted.

He responded to a tweet made by another user requesting Mahindra to offer Srikanth something.

“Sir, He (Srikanth) gets only five lakh..That’s nothing compared to cricket, pls do something,” @NastreTheMust wrote in his tweet.

With inputs from agencies

Bengaluru Bureau adds

Prakash Padukone: I think he is in great form. It is very creditable. When we were playing, winning two or three tournaments was not uncommon. These days, in the present format it is tough. He has reached three finals and won two, it is one of his best periods. I think he always had it in him. Of late, all the Indian players are doing well. I think the addition of the Indonesian coaches has made a big difference. They all feel much stronger and fitter. Credit must go to Gopichand for identifying these coaches and getting them in. Getting the right people in is an important aspect of being the chief coach. He has built a good team. 

Vimal Kumar: After 2014, Srikanth was struggling to cope with the attention. He also had various injuries which affected his progress. The most important thing I have noticed about his game now is that he has developed patience. He is not just blindly hitting anymore. He is constructive and more creative, so that’s a big plus. Beating the Korean player Son Wan Ho, a very defensive player, two times in two events is a good achievement. The world championships will be a big test, but these wins will be big confidence booster for Srikanth.

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