India's ace shuttler Kidambi Srikanth displayed his magical skills on the badminton court on Sunday to trounce reining Olympic and World champion China's Chen Long 22-20, 21-16 in men's singles final and win the coveted Australian Open Super Series title.
A stunning straight-game triumph helped Srikanth earn his second successive Super Series title after the Indonesia Open. World no. 11 Srikanth showed some deft hands in a 45-minute clash against the world no.6 Chinese, who is also the current All England champion.
Srikanth, who had reached the summit clash in Singapore and Indonesia before this tournament, is only the fifth player in the world to contest three successive Super Series finals.
The Indian, a semi-finalist in the last edition of the tournament, was the one to grab the early lead. Following a sedate start, Srikanth capitalised on his opponent's rather sluggish game to clinch a 10-6 lead.
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But perhaps jolted by the lead he had conceded, Long gathered himself just in time, starting with a deftly-placedsmash, to make it 11-11.
The Chinese shifted gears quite suddenly to add pace tothe proceedings and his baseline strokes stood out for bothferocity and accuracy. But the Indian was no pushover and played the catch-up game quite well, coming up with a couple of brilliant smashes of his own.
And it was this tenacity which got Srikanth a 17-15 lead even though Long continued to breathe down his neck. But Srikanth did not let the momentum slip, helped by Long's erratic game and the underdog earned his first game point at 20-19.
Long managed to save that with a rasping smash butSrikanth's perseverance fetched him another at 21-20 when the Chinese was foxed by a low backhand return.
This time, Srikanth made no mistake and sealed the first game in 23 minutes. The second game began with an engaging baseline rally,which ended with Srikanth smashing his way to earn the first point.
The see-saw battle continued for a while before Srikanth broke away to lead 6-3, dominating the rallies with his accurately, rather awkwardly, placed shots, which Long found difficult to return.
But it was not to say that Long was completely out of thecontest. He did manage to keep the gap in check with flashesof brilliance that make him among the best in the world.
However, Srikanth seemed determined to end his winlessstreak against his fancied rival and led 11-9 at the lemon break of the second game.
Srikanth did not let the lead slip from that point,raising his game by quite a few notches against an increasingly faltering Long. It took Srikanth a minute less than the first game to wrap up a rather comfortable victory.
The triumph was a morale-boosting jinx-breaker forSrikanth, who had lost all his previous five encounters to Long.
With PTI inputs