World No. 4 Kidambi Srikanth overcame a spirited Takuma Ueda to earn a semi-final berth at the $275,000 India Open Superseries at the Siri Fort Complex in New Delhi on Friday. Srikanth had to battle it out for 78 minutes to keep Indian hopes alive in the men’s singles draw even as RMV Gurusaidutt and HS Prannoy crashed out in the quarter-finals.
Kidambi Srikanth wins 78-minute marathon
Kidambi Srikanth had defeated World No. 23 Takuma Ueda in a straight-game match just two weeks back at the Swiss Open. However, this time the Japanese had come better prepared.
After losing the first game 15-21 to Srikanth, the Japanese bounced back strongly to edge the second game in a thriller 25-23. It was a close fight to the finish with Srikanth managing to outlast Ueda 21-15, 23-25, 21-18.
2014 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist RMV Gurusaidutt who was making a comeback after a spate of injuries, fought hard with fellow qualifier Xue Song but went down in three games. Chinese Xue Song who had upset Parupalli Kashyap a day earlier, advanced to the semis with a 15-21, 21-18, 21-13 win in 64 minutes.
Xue Song will next face Kidambi Srikanth for a place in the final. The shuttlers are tied 1-1 in their career head-to-head record.
Lin Dan Upset
The other men’s singles semi-final will pit sixth seed Viktor Axelsen against eighth-seeded Indonesian Tommy Sugiarto. The Indonesian caused a massive upset in the quarters on Friday as he ousted two-time Olympic gold medallist Lin Dan. Sugiarto won 21-17, 15-21, 21-17.
All eyes on Saina Nehwal on Saturday
History beckons Saina Nehwal on Saturday. All eyes will be on the India No. 1 as she squares off against Yui Hashimoto – the very player who halted Saina’s run at the India Open in 2013. If she can secure the win, Saina Nehwal will assure herself of the World No. 1 ranking.
Prakash Padukone has so far been the only Indian to reach the top of the rankings. Thus, Saina can get a chance to etch her name in record books as the first Indian woman shuttler to be the world No. 1.
Let us hope Indian fans can witness this momentous occasion on Saturday and can also cheer Kidambi Srikanth to emerge victorious in the men’s singles draw.