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Srikanth slips against Sugiarto in Finals

By The Assam Tribune

MALANG, Dec 6: Indian ace Kidambi Srikanth�s gallant fight ended with a narrow three-game loss against home favourite Tommy Sugiarto in the men�s singles finals of the USD 120,000 Indonesian Masters Grand Prix Gold badminton tournament here today.

In a summit clash that went down to the wire and saw four racquets being used during the course of play, Srikanth squandered a first�game advantage and missed the title by a whisker, losing 21-17, 13-21, 22-24 to the World No. 12 in a match that lasted close to an hour.

The World No. 9 Indian, who won the Swiss Open and India Super Series early in the season, had come into the match with a 1-2 win-loss record against Sugiarto.

Srikanth showed tremendous grit, fighting back from 7-11 to grab the match point at 21-20 but he could not provide the finishing touch and settled as runners-up.

In the first game, both Srikanth and Sugiarto struggled to deal with the conditions here, making odd errors at the net and missing the lines but the Indian managed to keep his nose ahead at 11-8 with a cross-court smash.

After the interval, both the players engaged in a long rally which Sugiarto sealed with an accurate net stroke. The Indonesian played some deceptive cross-court returns and with the Indian finding the net more often, he clawed back to 13-13.

A few exceptional backhand returns and a rushing smash once again gave Srikanth the lead at 17-13. He produced a couple of cross-court and straight smashes to further extend the lead to 19-13 and earned the game point with a net stroke but Sugiarto saved two before he send one long to gift the first game to the Indian.

The second game started with an engaging rally and good line judgement gave Sugiarto a 3-1 lead. Srikanth faltered at the nets and allowed Sugiarto too much space to maneuver his shots and led 8-2.

A couple of straight down the line smash gave Srikanth two points but a weak return to the net and then poor judgement at the baseline saw Sugiarto move into the break at 11-6.

After the interval, Srikanth came up with some spectacular defence but could not follow it up with equally accurate returns as Sugiarto led 13-6.

An over the head smash and a cross court return helped Srikanth to narrow it down to 11-14. However, Srikanth lost a point when he walked away as he was not ready for the serve but the umpire decided to give the point to Sugiarto.

The Indonesian soon returned to his healthy seven-point lead when Srikanth found the net and sealed it comfortably.

In the decider, a tight backhand corner shot took Srikanth to a 3-1 lead initially but errors cropped in his game as Sugiarto came back at 4-4.

At 5-6, Sugiarto won a controversial point when his smash was judged outside the line but was immediately overruled by line umpire and approved by the chair umpire.

An unfazed Srikanth came up with a brilliant smash but he faltered at the net next and lost a parallel net exchange. He also made a wrong line judgement as Sugiarto entered the break leading 11-7. Back on his losing side of the court, Srikanth produced a dominating rally and closed it with a body smash but the Indonesian himself dished out a couple of delectable smashes to lead 13-9. � PTI

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