Malaysia Open: Indian challenge over as Srikanth loses to Chen Long

Chen Long
Olympic champion Chen Long edged Kidambi Srikanth to seal a place in the semifinals. FP

Kuala Lumpur: A fighting Kidambi Srikanth suffered a straight-game loss to Olympic champion Chen Long of China to bow out of the men's singles quarterfinals at the Malaysia Open here on Friday.

The eighth-seeded Indian, who had reached the final of India Open last week, blew a huge advantage in the opening game to eventually lose the quarterfinal 18-21, 19-21.

This was Srikanth's fourth quarterfinal of the season.

Srikanth blew a 16-11 advantage in the opening game, while in the second game he fought back from 7-11 to level scores at 19-19 before ending up on the losing side.

The 26-year-old had a 1-5 head-to-head record against Chen Long, whom he had defeated in their last meeting at the 2017 Australian Open.

The Chinese showed great defence, playing some exceptional shots like a between-the-legs return to keep the spectators entertained at the Kuala Lumpur Sports City.

In the first game, the Indian opened up an 11-7 lead at the first break. He kept his nose ahead till 16-11 before Chen started slowly clawing back into the contest.

The Chinese drew parity at 17-17 before sealing the game with a cross court return that left the Indian stranded.

In the second game, Srikanth kept himself close to the Chinese before Chen unleashed a down-the-line smash to grab an 11-7 lead at the breather.

Srikanth made some simple errors like misjudging line calls, hitting wide and long and also mistiming shots as Chen led 16-8.

The Indian won a long rally when Chen went wide and then the Chinese lost a couple of more points near the net before attacking the Indian's backhand to reach 17-11.

Srikanth kept breathing down Chen's neck and reduced the margin to 17-18 with the Chinese falling in a heap of errors.

The Indian levelled the scores at 18-18 and again at 19-19.

But the Chinese sent one at the backline to move to match point and sealed it when a fighting Srikanth dived full stretch, but couldn't keep the shuttle in.

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