Srikanth Kidambi became the first India to win the Indonesian Open title defeating Japan’s Kazumasa Sakai in the finals of the Indonesian Open in straight sets 21-11, 21-19 within 37 minutes. The India being the better-ranked player in the match was the favourite to win it after his last night victory against top-seeded World no.1 Sun Wan Ho in the semis.
This was Kidambi’s second consecutive Super Series final appearance after he was beaten by his compatriot Sai Praneeth in the Singapore Open finals in April. That was the first ever all-Indian Super Series final in history. It looked like we would witness another similar match after HS Prannoy reached the semis defeating former World No.1s Lee Chong Wei from Malaysia and Chen Long from China. But Sakai demolished the Indian dreams as he a made a superlative comeback in the semifinal against Prannoy to secure a place in the finals.
The final started with a neck to neck contest between Sakai and Kidambi with a score of 9-8 in the first set with the latter leading. He then succeeded in claiming the next two points and the game went 11-8 at the break. As the game resumed, Kidambi came out all guns blazing. He did not give any chance to Sakai as he took six straight points to take the score to 19-9. Sakai then took 2 points but the set was already in his clutches.
In the second set, the Japanese started well showing greater agility on the court and also getting some free chances with Kidambi’s errors. The game seemed to be tilting towards Sakai as he gained a 5 point lead at the break. But similar to the first set, the break did wonders to Kidambi’s form. He took no time in equalizing 13-all and the game went all at par with never a difference of greater than 2 points to be seen between the shuttlers. Sakai held a slender lead at 18-17, but Kidambi went equally at 18-all and then took the lead to finish 21-19.
Sakai tried all his best to take the second set and run into a decider but was not successful. Kidambi, on the contrary, held his nerves even after being behind in the second set and did not give it away.
This was Kidambi’s third Super Series win after his triumph against Danish Viktor Axelsen in the finals of the Indian Open in 2015. He is now ranked No.2 on the destination Dubai rankings.