India’s K. Srikanth dished out a gritty performance to stun World No. 1 Korean Son Wan Ho to reach the final of the $1 million Indonesia Super Series Premier here on Saturday.
The 24-year-old from Guntur fought like a man possessed to outclass Son 21-15, 18-21, 24-22 in an energy-sapping match that lasted an hour and 12 minutes.
Srikanth had a 2-4 head-to-head record against Son, having lost their last four meetings, but that didn’t matter as he survived a battle of attrition.
World No. 22 Srikanth will next face Japanese qualifier Kazumasa Sakai in the final.
This is the fourth Super Series final for Srikanth, who had reached the summit clash in Singapore in April and won the 2014 China Open and 2015 India Open.
Earlier, giant-killer H.S. Prannoy played his heart out but eventually ran out of steam against Sakai.
The World No. 25, who had shocked Olympic silver-medallist Lee Chong Wei and gold-medallist Chen Long in the last two days, got to match point five times but he could not convert to eventually go down 21-17, 26-28, 18-21 in a 77-minute match.
Prannoy, who had lost to Sakai in the 2013 edition, mostly matched Sakai stroke for stroke but failed to complete the rallies. The Japanese, a bundle of energy, showed better control to emerge victorious.
In the first game, Prannoy and Sakai were locked 2-2 early on but the Indian soon moved ahead to make it 4-2 before entering the break with a healthy 11-6 lead. He moved to a 19-15 lead and soon grabbed the game point.
Prannoy hit wide and then sent the shuttle out as the Japanese saved two game points but his smash went to the net as Prannoy earned bragging rights.
The second game was a roller-coaster as Sakai opened up a 5-1 lead after dominating the rallies. The Indian narrowed the gap to 4-5 with his smashes.
But he was finding it difficult to control the shuttle and several shots went wide as Sakai moved to 11-5 at the interval when Prannoy’s return went to the net.
Prannoy produced some scintillating down-the-line smashes and kept breathing down his rival’s neck at 15-17 and soon clawed back to 18-18. Sakai next hit the shuttle long as the Indian moved to 19-18 and he grabbed his first match point at 20-19.
Fortunes continued to fluctuate as Prannoy failed to negotiate another return as the lead finally swung back to the Japanese at 27-26 and he sealed it this time when Prannoy’s miscued smash went into the net.
In the third game, Sakai moved to a 6-4 lead and soon had a four-point advantage. Trailing 5-9, Prannoy tried to change the pace of the rallies. He narrowed it to 7-9 before Sakai headed into the break with a 11-9 lead.
After the change of sides, Sakai moved ahead to 15-11. Prannoy made mistakes but he managed to make it 17-18. But eventually, it was the Japanese who had the last laugh.
Source: The Hindu