K. Srikanth, who had a dream run in 2017 when he won four Super Series titles and climbed to World No. 1 in the men’s singles rankings, created history in Huelva on Sunday when he became the first Indian man to reach the final of the World Championship.
Though he lost to Singapore’s Loh Kean Yew in straight games, the 28-year-old had a memorable campaign as he capitalised on the withdrawals of a few big names.
Unleashing his characteristic jump smashes under pressure, Srikanth dropped enough hints that he was back at full throttle. Against a determined Lakshya Sen in the semifinal, he clawed back from a game down to win in three in a contest that witnessed superb rallies and breathtaking shots.
The first-ever semifinal featuring two Indians at the Worlds also showed that men’s badminton, as much as the women’s game, is growing in the country.
Born in Ravulapalem, Andhra Pradesh, Srikanth started playing the sport in Guntur. His career took off once he shifted base to the Gopi Academy.
In the international arena, he made his first big impact in 2014 when he defeated badminton legend and Chinese superstar Lin Dan in the China Open final and became the first Indian to win a Super Series Premier men’s title.
Three years later, he was at his best as he accumulated trophies in style. A spate of injuries saw Srikanth falter after that remarkable phase.
Things didn’t go the way he would have wanted them to though he won the mixed team gold and a silver in the 2018 Commonwealth Games. After missing out on qualification for the Tokyo Olympics, Srikanth trained hard for the rest of the season. And his performance in Huelva underlined that.
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