Basel: Putting his All England Open disappointment behind, top Indian shuttler Kidambi Srikanth displayed pure class to oust defending champion Viktor Axelsen and clinch the men's singles title at the $120,000 Swiss Open Grand Prix Gold badminton championship on Sunday.
In the final at St Jakobshalle, the top seed defeated the Dane 21-15, 12-21, 21-14 in 47 minutes in their first career meeting. This is the first time an Indian male has won the title after compatriot Saina Nehwal clinched back-to-back women's singles crowns in 2011 and 2012.
The World No.6 Axelsen gave a tough fight to the 22-year-old Indian at the start as he matched shots to stay level till 8-all. However, Srikanth upped the ante to start extending the lead and reached 20-13 in no time. The second seed managed to save two game points before Srikanth sealed it on the third.
Axelsen, however, turned the tables in the second game. Not once did he allow the World No.4 to dominate and, using his height to good effect, hit several smashes to go into an 11-3 lead.
It was too difficult for the Hyderabadi to recover from there and from 16-12, Axelsen won five straight points to win the game and level the match at one-game-all.
The Dane took the momentum into the decider with an important 4-1 lead but the top seeded Indian was not going to give up that easy. Srikanth suddenly found legs to win the next six points and go into a 7-4 lead.
It was neck-and-neck between the two shuttlers as neither was ready to give away even a single point, extending the rallies which tired out the Dane.
From 13-all, Axelsen only managed to win one of the next nine points as Srikanth displayed top skill to win the game and earn his second Grand Prix Gold title.
This is the World No.4's first title of the year after losing the India Open Grand Prix Gold final in Lucknow in January followed by a first round exit from All England earlier this month.
Srikanth will next play at the India Open Super Series in New Delhi from March 24 to 29.