Tokyo: Kidambi Srikanth crashed out of the men's singles event after losing a marathon three-game quarterfinal to draw curtains on India's campaign at the $700,000 Japan Open badminton tournament here on Friday.
Just like his compatriots, fatigue seemed to have caught up with the seventh-seeded Srikanth as he squandered a game's lead to lose 21-19, 16-21, 18-21 to Korea's Lee Dong Keun in a duel that lasted an hour and 19 minutes.
Former world No.1 Srikanth, who won a silver at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, had earlier avenged his Asian Games loss to Hong Kong's Wong Wing Ki Vincent with a clinical straight game win in the previous round.
In a hard-fought battle where fortunes fluctuated too often, Srikanth converted a 2-4 deficit into a 9-5 lead in the opening game. But Lee clawed back at 10-10 before the Indian managed to grab a one-point advantage at the first interval.
Srikanth continued to lead, but Lee kept breathing down his neck. Leading 19-17, the Indian allowed the Korean to catch up again before pocketing the opening game.
Lee played positively in the second game, reducing his errors even as Srikanth found the going tough as he conceded seven straight points to trail 5-12.
Srikanth tried to stage a comeback, but Lee kept his nose ahead to roar back into the contest.
The decider turned out to be a pulsating contest as Lee jumped to a 12-9 lead only to see Srikanth inch ahead at 13-12 with four-point burst. However, Lee managed to draw parity at 14-14 and then slowly moved ahead to eventually seal the contest.
It was Srikanth's second defeat to Lee, who had outlasted the Indian at the 2016 Asia Championship.