Thursday, April 18

Kidambi Srikanth: A Tale of Two Tournaments

Inconsistent brilliance defines Kidambi Srikanth and his badminton career. The Swiss Open showcased his talent, and the inconsistency.

Kidambi Srikanth’s journey in badminton is a thrilling yet perplexing one. He can leave you awestruck with his sublime skills, only to plunge you into despair with a string of unforced errors. The highs and lows of the recent performance by Kidambi Srikanth at the Swiss Open perfectly capture this essence.

A Resurgence of Dominance

The Basel edition of the Swiss Open witnessed a resurgent Srikanth. For three consecutive matches (Wednesday-Friday), he displayed some of his best badminton in recent memory. His dominance was reminiscent of his unbeaten run that secured India’s historic Thomas Cup triumph in 2022. Three straight victories in two games each showcased his prowess against formidable opponents:

  • Wang Tzu Wei (who had just defeated Viktor Axelsen in Paris)
  • Lee Zii Jia (known for his equally inconsistent brilliance)
  • Chia Hao Lee (conqueror of Lakshya Sen)

These wins were a testament to Srikanth’s skillset. He displayed exceptional court coverage, dominated net exchanges with his agility, and unleashed powerful smashes that left his opponents bewildered.

The Crushing Defeat: A Familiar Foe

However, the semifinals against Lin Chun Yi (World No. 22) on Saturday proved to be a heartbreaker. In a see-saw battle lasting 65 minutes, Srikanth faltered after a promising start. Here’s a breakdown of the match:

  • Game 1: Srikanth surged ahead, leading 11-5. His breathtaking crosscourt net shot sealed the opening game, leaving him brimming with confidence.
  • Game 2: The tide turned as Chun Yi countered Srikanth’s aggression with his own net dominance. Srikanth’s error rate soared, and he conceded a flurry of points, losing the game 9-21.

The Fight and the Fall

The decider was a nail-biting affair. Srikanth, trailing 2-6, displayed glimpses of his fighting spirit, clawing his way back to tie the score at 16-16. However, Chun Yi’s youthful resilience proved too much in the end.

Beyond the Swiss Open: A Look at Srikanth’s Psyche

Srikanth’s on-court demeanor reflects the emotional rollercoaster his fans experience. He readily admits his high-risk, high-reward style of play: “When that smash falls in, I get a point. When it goes out, I lose a point. But that’s how I have always played.” This approach can be a double-edged sword – while it leads to spectacular victories, it also opens the door for a flood of errors.

Can Kidambi Srikanth Recapture His Glory?

Despite the Swiss Open setback, Srikanth’s coach, Kashyap Parupalli, remains optimistic. He believes Srikanth, with his natural talent and coachable nature, has a few more years at the top if he prioritizes peak fitness and a winning mentality. Srikanth himself has expressed his desire to move beyond simply participating in tournaments and focus on winning them.

The Swiss Open was a bittersweet reminder of Srikanth’s immense potential. While the errors remain a concern, his recent performances offer a glimmer of hope. Can Srikanth tame the rollercoaster and reach the pinnacle once again? Only time will tell, but one thing’s for sure – the ride promises to be exciting.

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