Srikanth beats Viktor Axelsen; Saina, Prannoy bow out of Denmark Open

PTIUpdated: Thursday, May 30, 2019, 02:47 AM IST
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Odense: Kidambi Srikanth knocked out local hero and World champion Viktor Axelsen in men’s singles quarterfinals but Saina Nehwal and HS Prannoy crashed out with straight game losses in the Denmark Open Super Series Premier, here today. Srikanth, who had suffered losses against Axelsen in the last three encounters, showed tremendous resilience and mental fortitude to oust the reigning World No. 1  14-21 22-20 21-7in a match that last 56 minutes at the Odense Sports Park here.

“This win is a confidence booster for me. I had lost tohim at India Open, World Championship and Japan Open andreally wanted to win. I took lot of time to get adjusted to the court but I was more patient and curbed my errors. He tried few things in the third game which didn’t materialize,”Srikanth told PTI. Earlier, Saina Nehwal, still exhausted from last night’s late match, suffered a 10-21 13-21 loss to Japan’s World no 5 Akane Yamaguchi in women’s singles.

“I didn’t get enough time to rest. I’ve never slept at 3.I was sluggish. But I should say Yamaguchi played really well.I have to prepare more to play back to back tough matches.Anyways can’t do much about it. Next is French Open,” Saina told PTI. Prannoy, meanwhile, succumbed to a series of unforcederrors, losing 13-21 18-21 to World No. 2 Korean Son Wan Ho inmen’s singles. “I committed too many errors. He hardly won points. Iknew I have to be patient with him but I couldn’t. It was oneof those days when nothing goes right,” he said. There was a lot of expectation from Axelsen, who wasplaying at his home.

Egged by a vocal crowd, the local herodid make a rampaging start as he zoomed to a 6-1 lead early onand managed to earn a 11-6 advantage at the interval. Srikanth grabbed six points on the trot but committed toomany unforced errors. Axelsen showed ample display of hisatheism as he returned twice from awkward positions to returnthe shuttle and eventually held seven game points, which heconverted after Srikanth’s smash went wide. The second game started on an even-knell before Srikanthled 5-3 when Axelsen misjudged a shot at the baseline andfound the net next. The Indian dominated the parallel game andreached 10-7 with Axelsen faltering with a net dribble. However, Axelsen produced two powerful smashes which Srikanth failed to negotiate to lead 11-10.

The Indian made two good judgements at the baseline and helped by his rival’snet error held a 15-14 lead which soon evaporated. Axelsen again grabbed a two-point lead at 18-16 when Srikanth pushed the shuttle long. The Dane went to 19-17 witha net exchange. However, Srikanth managed to grab a 20-19 leadwith a smash. A precise on the line smash by Srikanth and anet error by Axelsen finally took the match to decider. In the third game, Axelsen surged to 3-1 lead before Srikanth erased the deficit with a jump smash and led 5-3 when his rival went wide and found the net. The Dane continued tocommit unforced errors and one such wide return earnedSrikanth a healthy 11-4 lead. After the break, Axelsen simply couldn’t keep the shuttleon the court and eventually handed the match to the Indianwith two net errors. In another men’s singles match, Prannoy and Son Wan splitthe initial 10 points but then the Indian succumbed to aseries of unforced errors as the Korean lead 11-5 at theinterval. His struggle with errors continued after the break as SonWan moved to a 16-9 lead. Prannoy reached doubles figures whenhis rival sent the shuttle long and followed it up with a net error.

Also read: Denmark Open: Prannoy, Srikanth, Saina Nehwal to play respective quarterfinals today

However, the Korean eventually reached the game pointwhen a diving Prannoy failed to retrieve a shot. He thensealed the game when the Indian hit the net next. In the second game, Prannoy worked hard to build a 8-5lead, following a series of rallies where the pace changed toofrequently as each looked to outdo the other. The Indianextended it to 10-8 before unleashing a body smash to enterthe break with three point lead. However, Son Wan quickly levelled par with three quick points and took the lead with a measured return at his rival’s forecourt. Prannoy bounced back at 16-16 before taking a 18-16 lead to let out a cry to pump himself up. But he blew it with an error in return to serve and thenSon Wan took the lead when Prannoy went wide. With theIndian’s return going to net again, Son Wan had two matchpoints and he sealed the issue when Prannoy went wide again.

In women’s singles, Saina clearly looked tired andsluggish and the result was her movement was not up to themark and she committed too many errors to allow Yamaguchi openup a 11-6. The Indian could hardly do anything after the breakas the Japanese walked away with the opening game. In the second game, Saina tried to pump herself up andhad managed to move to 3-3 early on but Yamaguchi put theshuttle in difficult positions which the Indian founddifficult to retrieve as the Japanese lead 7-4. Saina managed to turn the tables at 8-7 but Yamaguchi held the slender one-point advantage at the break when the Indian hit long. After the break,  Yamaguchi stayed a step ahead of the Indian and continued to accumulate points with her better court coverage and stroke play and seal it without much ado in the end.

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