Khaleej Times

Srikanth outguns Chen to win Australian Open


SYDNEY — India’s Kidambi Srikanth claimed a first victory over Olympic and two-time world champion Chen Long to win the Australian Open Superserie­s final in Sydney on Sunday.

The 11th-ranked Srikanth outgunned the sixth-ranked Chinese star 22-20, 21-16 in 46 minutes for his second successive Superserie­s title after winning the Indonesia Open earlier this month.

It was Srikanth’s first win in six encounters against the Rio Olympic champion, with Chen defeating the Indian at the Sudirman Cup on Australia’s Gold Coast last month. “I was not thinking of winning or losing. I missed competitiv­e badminton during my break last year and wanted to enjoy the match,” Srikanth said.

“These conditions are such that you can’t really attack, it’s a bit slow, you have to be prepared for a long match. In all the breaks today I had the advantage, (coach) Mulyo told me to keep it going, not to make simple mistakes and allow him back into the match.”

Indians have now won four of the six Superserie­s this year. Srikanth is in career-best form after returning from injury in April.

He made it to the Singapore Open final and won the Indonesia Open ahead of the Australian event. Chen is on the comeback trail from a long-lasting injury and has not won a Superserie­s title since the 2014 Denmark Open.

Chen, who had played two long matches before the final, said he was still recovering from gastroente­ritis. “As a whole I played very well, but since I arrived in Sydney I have had gastroente­ritis and diarrhoea, so I haven’t been at my best physical condition,” he said.

“But since I made the final, I wanted to continue to play as well as I could.”

Olympic bronze medallist Nozomi Okuhara earlier downed Akane Yamaguchi 21-12, 21-23, 21-17 in an all-Japanese women’s final. Okuhara won her first World Superserie­s title since the All England last year, displaying the full extent of her indefatiga­ble retrieving style in getting the better of Yamaguchi. “This morning my home town had an earthquake so I wanted to send good news to them,” Okuhara said.

“I said yesterday that I wanted to show that women’s singles in Japan is at a high level so in this match, when Akane Yamaguchi really fought in the final game, we showed that. After the Rio Olympics I had an injury and was a bit nervous. —

 ?? AFP ?? Kidambi Srikanth poses with the trophy after defeating Chen Long in the Australian Open badminton final in Sydney on Sunday. —
AFP Kidambi Srikanth poses with the trophy after defeating Chen Long in the Australian Open badminton final in Sydney on Sunday. —

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