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Kidambi Srikanth has been on a roll off late. He has beaten the World No 1 Son Wan Ho twice in as many weeks, he has beaten the Chinese top-ranked shuttler Shi Yuqi twice as well. To top that off, he had won the title in Indonesia on Sunday following up on a foray into the final of Singapore Open Super Series in his last competition. Move to Sydney for the Australian Open Super Series and he was once again in the final – third in a row for him – and vying for a fourth Super Series title. In his path stood Chen Long – reigning Olympic gold medallist and former World No 1. Long, someone who had beaten Srikanth in all five matches between them and dropped just one game in the process. But all that counted for nothing on Sunday as Srikanth bridged that head-to-head gap and won his fourth Super Series title with a comprehensive 22-20, 21-16 victory.
Srikanth started with a service error which hinted at nerves for the Indian shuttler but everything from then on went in his favour – not by luck but by sheer persistence. He played better from the back of the court and once again brought in his deft drop shots to perfect use and smashed beautifully – bringing back flashbacks of his form and run prior to the knee injury that kept him out for a lengthy period.
But as the match progressed and the finishing line drew closer, Srikanth held firm and didn’t succumb to the excitement of it all. He didn’t let his level and game drop despite Long getting some luck of the net on more than one occasion. It was almost a case of tables turned as Chen was under pressure late in the second game as he served long and the victory was complete when Chen Long sent the service by Srikanth long.
It was almost ominous that during the second game, Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Srikanth for his Indonesia Open win. “Badminton player Kidambi Srikanth recently won the Indonesia Open. He has made the nation proud,” he said and the shuttler has given the nation more reasons to be proud and maybe another mention in the Prime Minister’s address to the nation. Further, Srikanth jumped to World No 11 in the recent rankings and will most definitely enter the top-10 on Thursday when the updated list is released.