India Open: Axelsen dashes Srikanth's hopes of ending title drought

 Viktor Axelsen
Viktor Axelsen beat Kidambi Srikanth 21-7, 22-20 in the final. AFP

New Delhi: Former champion Kidambi Srikanth's hope of snapping a long title draught came crashing down after he went down in straight games to former world champion Viktor Axelsen of Denmark at the Yonex-Sunrise India Open here on Sunday.

A former world No. 1 Srikanth blew two game points in the second to lose 7-21, 20-22 to Axelsen in the men's singles summit clash.

It was the Indian's first final in a BWF world tour event in 17 months. He last won a title at the 2017 French Open.

The final started as a close affair with Srikanth and Axelsen splitting the initial 10 points, but a series of unforced errors from the Indian allowed the Danish player to move ahead as he unleashed a smash to seal an 11-7 advantage at the break.

Srikanth failed to engage his rival in rallies with Axelsen punishing any weak return. The Indian's backhand was particularly weak and he lost plenty points there. Axelsen eventually took the opening game when Srikanth went long.

After the change of sides, Srikanth conceded a 1-5 lead early on. The Indian took the next three points, but Axelsen was always a step ahead.

Srikanth's lifts went long and he also made wrong line calls, enabling Axelsen to grab an 11-9 lead at the break.

A fighting Srikanth, however, clawed back at 12-12 and went to the lead at 14-13 after Axelsen smashed wide.

Srikanth soon grabed two game points. However, he lost both with a wide return and after failing to connect a shot. A net dribble gave Axelsen the match point and he sealed it with a precise return.

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