Kuala Lumpur: Kidambi Srikanth suffered a straight-game loss to Olympic champion Chen Long of China and chased out of the men’s singles quarterfinals at the Malaysia Open here Friday. Seeded eight Srikanth, who had reached the finals of India Open last week, blew a huge advantage in the opening game to eventually lose the quarterfinal match 18-21 19-21.
This was Srikanth’s fourth quarterfinal of the season.
Srikanth blew a 16-11 advantage in the opening game, while in the second game he fought back from 7-11 down to level scores at 19-19 before ending up on the losing side. The 26-year-old had a 1-5 head-to-head record against Chen Long, whom he had defeated in their last meeting at the 2017 Australian Open. The Chinese showed great defence, playing some exceptional shots like a between-the-legs return to keep the spectators entertained at the Kuala Lumpur Sports City.
In the first game, the Indian opened up a 11-7 lead at the first break. He kept his nose ahead till 16-11 before Chen started slowly clawing back into the contest. The Chinese drew parity at 17-17 before sealing the game with a cross court return that left the Indian stranded. In the second game, Srikanth kept himself close to the Chinese before Chen unleashed a down-the-line smash to grab a 11-7 lead at the breather.
Srikanth made some simaple errors like misjudging line calls, hitting wide and long and also mistiming shots as Chen led 16-8. The Indian won a long rally when Chen went wide and then the Chinese lost a couple of more points near the net before attacking the Indians backhand to reach 17-11.
Srikanth kept breathing down Chen’s neck and reduced the margin to 17-18 with the Chinese falling in a heap of errors. The Indian levelled the scores at 18-all and was 19-19 when Chen hit another long shot. But the Chinese sent one at the backline to move to match point and sealed it when a fighting Srikanth dived full stretch but couldn’t keep the shuttle in.