Badminton: Axelsen downs Srikanth to claim second India Open title, Ratchanok now three-time champ in Delhi

Denmark's badminton player Viktor Axelsen plays a return against Thailand badminton player Suppanyu Avihingsanon during the men's singles second round badminton match at the Yonex-Sunrise India Open 2019 in New Delhi on March 28, 2019.
Denmark's badminton player Viktor Axelsen plays a return against Thailand badminton player Suppanyu Avihingsanon during the men's singles second round badminton match at the Yonex-Sunrise India Open 2019 in New Delhi on March 28, 2019. PHOTO: AFP

NEW DELHI (AFP) - Danish giant Viktor Axelsen outplayed home favourite Kidambi Srikanth in straight games to clinch the India Open badminton title on Sunday (March 31).

The 1.94m 25-year-old player pulled off his shirt in jubilant celebration as he beat Srikanth 21-7, 22-20 in 36 minutes at Delhi's Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium.

"It is great to win the tournament. I don't know what to say, it is always a confidence boost, especially after the All England final, it is nice to win here," said Axelsen, who was the runner-up to Japan's Kento Momota in Birmingham a few weeks earlier.

"We were so close, and it is small things which makes the difference. So you never know what would have happened if Srikanth had won the second game."

In the women's singles, Thailand's Ratchanok Intanon served past He Bingjiao of China 21-15, 21-14 to claim her third India title in the BWF World Tour Super 500 tournament.

But it was the men's singles that drew maximum interest with Srikanth being the lone Indian hope in the US$350,000 (S$474,400) event after women's star P.V. Sindhu lost in the semi-finals.

Axelsen, who was the top seed by default after the last-minute pullout of defending champion Shi Yuqi of China, started with a bang after taking the first game.

But Srikanth, who played his first final of a BWF world tour event in 17 months, came back in the second game to match the Dane with some good returns as he led 20-18.

Axelsen saved the two game points and went on to win his second India Open title after his 2017 triumph.

"You need a little bit of luck, I had a lucky net chord. Failure is not far from success, that's how sports is, it is fragile," said Axelsen.

Srikanth, a former world No. 1 and 2015 champion, said, "I haven't played anything differently and so I lost. I should have tried something different."

Earlier the fourth-seeded Ratchanok registered her first win against He, ranked seventh in the world, in five meetings.

The Thai player bounced back after losing the first game to upstage He, who had taken down last-year's champion Zhang Beiwen in the quarter-finals.

In the doubles, the Chinese Taipei duo of Lee Yang and Wang Chi-lin won in the men's segment, top seeds Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu of Indonesia clinched the women's final, while another pair of top seeds Wang Yilyu and Huang Dongping of China were victorious in the mixed event.