Kidambi finds way past Chen for another title

Indian shuttler Srikanth Kidambi returning against Olympic champion Chen Long. The Australian Open winner is in fine form.
Indian shuttler Srikanth Kidambi returning against Olympic champion Chen Long. The Australian Open winner is in fine form.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

SYDNEY • Indian shuttler Srikanth Kidambi claimed a first victory over reigning Olympic and two-time world champion Chen Long to win the Australian Open Superseries title in Sydney yesterday.

The 11th-ranked player outgunned the Chinese star 22-20, 21-16 in 46 minutes for his second successive Superseries title after winning the Indonesia Open earlier this month.

It was the 24-year-old's first win in six encounters against the Rio de Janeiro Olympic champion, with the world No. 6 defeating the Indian at the Sudirman Cup on Australia's Gold Coast last month.

"I was not thinking of winning or losing. I missed competitive badminton during my break last year and wanted to enjoy the match," Kidambi said. "These conditions are such that it's a bit slow, you have to be prepared for a long match.

"In all the breaks today, I had the advantage, (India's singles coach) Mulyo (Handoyo) told me to keep it going, not to make simple mistakes and allow him back into the match."

Indians have now won four singles titles from six Superseries tournaments this year.

Srikanth is in career-best form after returning from injury in April. He also made it to the Singapore Open final.

Chen is on the comeback trail from a long-term injury and has not won a Superseries title since the 2015 Denmark Open.

The 28-year-old, who had played two long matches before the final, said he is still recovering from stomach flu.

"Since I arrived in Sydney, I have had gastroenteritis and diarrhoea so I haven't been at my best physical condition," he said. "But since I made the final, I wanted to continue to play as well as I could."

Reigning Olympic bronze medallist Nozomi Okuhara earlier downed Akane Yamaguchi 21-12, 21-23, 21-17 in an all-Japanese women's final.

Okuhara won her first Superseries title since the All England last year, displaying her indefatigable retrieving style in getting the better of Yamaguchi.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 26, 2017, with the headline 'Kidambi finds way past Chen for another title'. Print Edition | Subscribe