Former champion Kidambi Srikanth broke a 17-month long drought by reaching the finals of the USD 350,000 India Open after prevailing in a three-game thriller in the men's singles competition here Saturday. Srikanth had entered the finals of Commonwealth Games last year but he failed to reach the summit clash in any BWF superseries or BWF World Tour tournament since his French Open win in October 2017.
The 26-year-old from Guntur eked out a 14-21, 21-16, 21-19 triumph over China's Huang Yuxiang in an engrossing semifinal. He will face either second seed Viktor Axelsen or India's Parupalli Kashyap in the final.
"It's been really long since I reached a final. I'm just happy to be here, playing the final again," Srikanth said.
"I was trailing in the decider and I am happy to pull it off. I'm happy to come back in the second. It was about keeping the shuttle in. The crowd kept me going."
Srikanth used his flat tosses and deep lifts to engage his rival into rallies but Huang was also up to the task before the Indian managed to hold on an 11-10 lead at the first break.
The duel continued before the Chinese moved to an 18-14 lead after the Indian lost a few points at the net. Srikanth saved two game points with a cross-court smash and a precise net shot before hitting wide to lose the first game.
In the second, Srikanth came on his own, opening up an 8-4 lead after playing some exceptional strokes. Two smashes took him to the 11-4 mark at the interval.
The Indian continued to dominate the proceedings after the breather and roared back into the contest when the Chinese hit the net.
In the decider, Srikanth was a step ahead initially but a wrong line call, a smash going wide and a net error allowed the Chinese to make it 8-7. The Indian, however, ensured a slender 11-10 lead at the break.
After the change of sides, Srikanth constructed the rallies but ended up hitting wide and long to fall behind 15-17.
A precise on-the-line smash helped him to draw parity 18-18. He pounced on to a weak return and then grabbed two match points after Huang hit wide. The Chinese saved one before hitting the net.