Kidambi Srikanth loses to Lin Dan

Kidambi Srikanth, who had beaten the five-time world champion, Lin Dan, in the 2014 China Open final, suffered a 6-21, 21-11, 18-21 loss against the World No. 3 in a nerve-wracking match that lasted an hour and four minutes.

Kidambi Srikanth fought till the end, but could not match Lin Dan's prowess.   -  Nagara Gopal

India's Kidambi Srikanth played his heart out before going down to the two-time Olympic Games gold medallist, Lin Dan, in the quarterfinals of the men's singles badminton at the Rio Olympics here on Wednesday.

The 21-year-old from Guntur, who had beaten the five-time world champion from China in the 2014 China Open final, suffered a 6-21, 21-11, 18-21 loss against the World No. 3 in a nerve-wracking match that lasted an hour and four minutes.

Lin Dan will now take on his long-time rival and two-time Olympic silver medallist, Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia, in a mouth-watering semifinal clash. The top seed beat sixth-seeded Chou Tien Chen of Chinese Taipei 21-9, 21-15.

A former World No. 3, Srikanth seemed nervous early on and was totally outclassed in the opening game that lasted just 16 minutes.

There was a visible change in Srikanth's approach in the second game, as he raced to a 6-3 lead. His strokes got better as he caught the celebrated Chinese off guard a few times with his angled returns and held a six-point advantage at the interval.

Srikanth tried to engage Lin Dan in long rallies with some deep corner returns and then came up with some sublime winners to lead 15-8. The Indian missed a video referral to allow Lin Dan a point but his forehand smash next caught Lin Dan napping. The Chinese again hit long as Srikanth led 17-9. A crosscourt backhand return earned Srikanth another point, and with the Chinese going long again, the Indian had a 10-game point advantage. One smash went wide but Srikanth roared back into the contest with a superb return to the forecourt.

In the decider, six-time All England champion Lin Dan opened up a 2-0 lead but Srikanth managed to make it 3-4 before a superb rally ended with the Chinese stamping his authority to lead 5-3. Srikanth continued to stretch his more experienced rival and drew parity at 6-6 when Lin failed to lift a shot at the net. The Indian played some extraordinary strokes to bamboozle the Chinese.

The Indian grabbed a slender lead for the first time at 9-8 when Lin Dan hit long and entered the break with a 11-8 advantage after producing a powerful smash which grounded the Chinese.

Srikanth played some excellent strokes at the forecourt, dominating the net which seemed to trouble the 32-year-old Chinese briefly. Lin Dan managed draw level at 13 when Srikanth missed the baseline by a whisker after being troubled by the drift. A couple of unforced errors shifted the momentum in favour of Lin Dan, as he went up 16-14. The Chinese netted one return but his disguised net shot caught Srikanth off-guard. A smash gave a point to the Indian, who pumped himself up after winning every point.

However, the sheer quality of his strokes helped Lin Dan lead 19-16, but Srikanth refused to give up easily as he pulled off another superb smash before rushing a shot that fell into the net to put the Chinese up by three match points.

Srikanth saved one match point when Lin Dan's return fell outside the court but the Chinese sealed the issue by pushing the shuttle to the back-court.