Indian top shuttle Kidambi Srikanth’s poor run continued as he went down in two games against Olympic and world champion Viktor Axelsen in his opening men’s singles match at the Yonex-Sunrise India Open Super 750 tournament here on Wednesday. Srikanth squandered a 14-5 lead in the second game after losing the opening and went down 14-21 19-21 to the world number 1, leaving the cheering fans at the IG stadium disappointed.
With the crowd backing him, Srikanth, a former world number 1, began to dominate the rallies and take mistakes out of Axelsen. The Indian tried to push his opponent forward and used his blows to move the tall Dane.
However, Axelsen was overtaken at 8-8 and then took a three-point lead at halftime with a round head smash.
At 13-9, Axelsen made a rare service error before another shot went into the net.
Srikanth tried to set up the rallies but often erred in his finishing.
The Dane finally sealed the opening game after the Indian broke out twice.
Srikanth made an attacking start after the change of ends and used his smashes well to lead 5-1. Two tight smashes either side helped the Indian hold onto his lead to 8-3 before going into the break with a healthy seven-point lead as Axelsen went to the net.
Srikanth didn’t let the intensity slip after the restart and led 14-6.
However, Axelsen came back in the nick of time when the Indian suddenly committed a series of unforced errors that allowed his rival to narrow the lead to 13-15.
He let go of the lines, repeatedly going to the nets once it was 17-16. Another net error helped Axelsen draw parity at 18-18. Luck also seemed to have left him as his return bounced off the band and landed.
Axelsen quickly picked up two match points and then produced an accurate return on the front to raise his hand in celebration.
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