Kidambi Srikanth made history by becoming the first Indian shuttler to win a silver medal in the men’s singles at the badminton world championships.
India’s Kidambi Srikanth settled for a silver medal in the men’s singles at the BWF World Championships 2021 in Huelva, Spain after losing to Singapore’s Loh Kean Yew 21-15, 22-20 in the final on Sunday.
The former world No. 1 Kidambi Srikanth became the first Indian to win a silver in the men’s singles at the badminton world championships, with Prakash Padukone (1983), B Sai Praneeth (2019) and Lakshya Sen (2021) winning a bronze each.
A total of eight Indian badminton players have stood on the podium at the world championships. PV Sindhu is the only Indian to win a gold medal.
Against Loh Kean Yew, world No. 14 Kidambi started strongly, courtesy of his superior front-court game. The Indian stuck to his drop shots that forced the Singaporean to the net and then unleashed big smashes, racing to an 11-7 lead.
The 22nd-ranked Loh Kean Yew, however, turned his fortunes around after the break. The nimble-footed Singaporean was not only reaching every shot with his quick pace but also correctly anticipating Kidambi’s returns.
The 24-year-old Loh tactfully set up point after point, winning 10 of the last 12 and raced to a 17-13 advantage. Kidambi, on the other hand, was hitting smashes outside the chalk and lost the first game 21-15 in 16 minutes.
The Indian opted for a more aggressive approach in the second game, which initially worked in his favour but Loh Kean Yew also improved his net game and defence to go into the break with a slender 11-9 lead
The 12th seeded Kidambi Srikanth was able to fight back into the contest with his down-the-line smashes, coupled with a few unforced errors from Loh. Kidambi went from 14-14 to 18-16.
Just when it looked like the match was heading to a decider, Loh Kean Yew came back fighting and returned everything Kidambi threw at him. The solid defence helped Loh reach 20-19.
Kidambi Srikanth saved two championship points but fumbled in the third to lose the match in 43 minutes and settle for a silver medal.
Earlier, Akane Yamaguchi was crowned the women’s singles champion after the Japanese ace defeated world No. 1 Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei 21-14, 21-11 in the final.
Japan’s Takuro Hoki and Yugo Kobayashi became the men’s doubles champions while the Chinese duo of Chen Qing Chen and Jia Yi Fan took the gold in women’s doubles.
Meanwhile, Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai from Thailand upgraded from their silver in 2019 to a mixed doubles gold in 2021.
Men’s singles – Loh Kean Yew (Singapore)
Women’s singles – Akane Yamaguchi (Japan)
Men’s doubles – Takuro Hoki/Yugo Kobayashi (Japan)
Women’s doubles - Chen Qing Chen/Jia Yi Fan (China)
Mixed doubles – Dechapol Puavaranukroh/Sapsiree Taerattanachai (Thailand)
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