Kidambi Srikanth to play Chen Long in Australian Open final

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Chen Long hopes for a huge win in Australian Open final. (photo: AFP)
Chen Long hopes for a huge win in Australian Open final. (photo: AFP)

Sydney: India’s unseeded Kidambi Srikanth reached his third consecutive Superseries final when the rampaging Indian delivered a fantastic performance with a crushing 21-10, 21-14 win over No. 4 Shi Yuqi to storm into the Australian Open final on Saturday.

Srikanth who finished runner-up at the Singapore Open Superseries before winning the Indonesia Open Superseries title last week, started the first set aggressively and quickly opened an 11-7 advantage before wrapping up the game 21-10.

Shi switched his strategy in the second set to focus on more fast-paced attacking shots, however, Srikanth’s defence coupled with his deceptive net shots pretty much took the wind out of Shi’s sails. Srikanth then nailed the match point with a huge crosscourt smash to reach his third consecutive Superseries final.

“Yes, I’m excited with my performance,” said Srikanth.

“I played in Singapore Open Superseries final after two years, and then to able to play the next two finals was a dream for sure,” added Srikanth.

“I was able to control the rhythm of the whole match and I was also able to control the net. Furthermore, I didn’t allow him to score any easy points,” said Srikanth.

Srikanth became the sixth player ever to reach three Superseries finals in a row, joining Lee Chong Wei, Lin Dan, Chen Long, Sony Dwi Kuncoro and Bao Chunlai.

The 24-year-old Indian shuttler will meet Olympic Champion Chen Long on Sunday.

Chen Long who won the Australian Open in 2015, was forced to dig deep before outlasted 37-year-old Korean shuttler Lee Hyun-Il in three grueling sets, beating the South Korean 26-24, 15-21, 21-17 in 68 minutes.

Lee Hyun-Il dominated the Olympic champion throughout the first set, but failed to close the deal and wasted four set points. Although Lee won the second game, but as matches wore on and fatigue built up, Lee clearly had no answer to Chen Long late in the third set.

“Overall, I am satisfied with my performance at Australian Open. I do not receive any pressures from anyone because ever since I became an independent player,” said Lee.

In the women’s singles semi-finals, No. 3 seed Akane Yamaguchi upset World No. 1 Tai Tzu Ying to play her teammate Nozomi Okuhara in the final.

Although Okuhara has lost to Yamaguchi in the second round of Indonesia Open last Thursday, she was planning to turn the fortune around in Sunday’s final.

“I suffered an injury after Olympic, but it is better now. I will give Akane a big challenge tomorrow,” said Okuhara.

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