Lucknow: Star Indian shuttler Kidambi Srikanth defeated a spirited challenge by Huang Yuxiang of China to claim his first men's singles title at the $120,000 Syed Modi International Badminton Championships here on Sunday.
Having lost the opening game of the final to the top seeded Indian, the unseeded Chinese youngster fought back to win the next game and gave a tough fight in the decider before Srikanth carved out a 21-13, 14-21, 21-14 victory in a little over an hour at the Babu Banarasi Das Indoor Stadium.
Kidambi Srikanth. AFP PHOTO
Sunday's triumph means the 22-year-old Srikanth claimed his first title at this competition after falling at the final hurdle in the last two years. This is the World No.9's first title in 2016 and first crown since the India Open in March 2015.
Srikanth made a good start to the first game, opening up a 4-2 lead. The world number nine Indian then went on to win the next four points to take a comfortable 8-3 lead and and went on to build on his advantage from there.
In the second game, Srikanth took a 9-4 lead early on. Huang did well to close down the gap before Srikanth won another point to go into the interval with an 11-7 lead.
Huang came out recharged after the interval and won three back to back points before taking the lead at 13-12. He held onto the momentum despite some excellent work by Srikanth and went on to win the game and pull level at 1-1.
Huang started the second game on a superb note, opening up a 6-1 lead to put pressure on his more fancied opponent. Stung by the reverse, Srikanth raised his game and started to gradually close the gap on the world number 73 Chinese.
The Indian took the lead at 10-9 before going into the interval with an 11-10 advantage. Chinese continued to give a spirited fight but Srikanth won four consecutive points to take an 18-13 lead and never looked back from there.
Earlier, the Indian men's doubles pair of Pranaav Chopra and Akshay Dewalkar had to endure a heartbreak as they wasted two match-point chances to lose the final to the experienced Malaysian combination of Goh V. Shem and Wee Kiong Tan.
The reigning Commonwealth Games gold medallists took exactly an hour and one minute to win the Grand Prix Gold tournament 14-21, 24-22, 21-8 at the Babu Banarasi Das Indoor Stadium. The win extended the Malaysian pair's head-to-head record to 3-0.
Dewalkar and Chopra got off to a fantastic start in the first game to easily romp home and take the lead in the contest.
Shem and Tan fought back strongly to go match-point (20-19) up in the second game. The Indian pair first saved that point to level the game at 20-all and twice went ahead to have two match-points in hand. However, they wasted both opportunities to let the game go.
The momentum completely swung as the visiting pair had no problem in winning the deciding game and clinching the title.
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