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Srikanth out, India’s campaign ends in Japan Open

 TOKYO, Sept 14: Kidambi Srikanth crashed out of the men’s singles event after losing a marathon three-game quarterfinal to draw curtains on India’s campaign at the USD 700,000 Japan Open badminton tournament here on Friday.

Just like his compatriots, fatigue seemed to have caught up with the seventh-seeded Srikanth as he squandered a game’s lead to lose 21-19, 16-21, 18-21 against Korea’s Lee Dong Keun in a duel that lasted an hour and 19 minutes.

Former World No. 1 Srikanth, who won a silver at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, had earlier avenged his Asian Games loss to Hong Kong’s Wong Wing Ki Vincent with a clinical straight game win in the previous round.

In a hard-fought battle where fortunes fluctuated too often, Srikanth converted a 2-4 deficit into a 9-5 lead in the opening game. But Lee clawed back at 10-10 before the Indian managed to grab the one-point advantage at the first interval.

Srikanth continued his upward movement but Lee kept breathing down his neck. Leading 19-17, the Indian allowed the Korean to catch up again before securing the required points to pocket the opening game.

Lee played positively in the second game, reducing his errors but Srikanth found the going tough as he conceded seven straight points to his opponent, who moved to a massive 12-5 lead at one stage.

Srikanth tried to make a comeback but Lee kept his nose ahead to roar back into the contest.

The decider turned out to be a pulsating contest as Lee jumped to a 12-9 lead only to see Srikanth turning the tables at 13-12 with four-point burst. However, Lee managed to draw parity at 14-14 and then slowly moved ahead to eventually seal the contest.

It was Srikanth’s second defeat to Lee, who had outlasted the Indian at the 2016 Asia Championship.

With Srikanth’s exit, the Indian shuttlers’ campaign at the Japan Open came to a halt as Olympic medallist and Asian Games silver-medallist PV Sindhu and HS Prannoy crashed out in the previous rounds of the women’s and men’s singles event respectively on Thursday.

In the men’s doubles too, the Indians failed to progress with the pair of Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy failing to go past the pre-quarterfinal stage on Thursday. – PTI

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