Indian Shuttler Srikanth Kidambi created history on Sunday when he became the first Indian man to win gold at the BWF Indonesian Open.
Kidambi took just 37 minutes to get the better of Japanese Kazumasa Sakai, 21-11, 21-19, in the final of the tournament. The man from Hyderabad won his 2nd Super Series Premier and his 8th individual title overall. Having seen him win the tournament quite comfortably, here we try and analyse the reasons why he has every chance to become an all time great in the fastest racket sport in the world.
Attack: Srikanth Kidambi is known to be a very good attacking player on the BWF circuit. From his aggressive net play to his venomous drop shots or even the deadly smashes, when Srikanth goes onto attacking mode, he is just breathtaking to watch. Although he is not the fastest smasher in the game, he surely generates immense power on them. During his match against World Number 1 Lee Chong Wee in the Sudirman Cup, the world got to see the ultra attacking side of the Indian on display.
Defence: Srikanth Kidambi has the brilliant ability to play defensive when pitted against a much fancied opponent. He has the tremendous ability to pick up opponents’ smashes to return it perfectly. In the recently concluded Indonesia Open final, Japanese Sakai went into all out attack at the beginning of the second game. Srikanth maintained his cool and showed his class in defensive play forcing the error from his opponent.
Recovery: The Indian ace shuttler suffered an ankle injury towards the end of last year after the Rio Olympics that saw him miss a lot of time on the badminton circuit. But he came back strongly in 2017, first reaching the finals of Singapore Open before losing to compatriot B. Sai Praneeth and then winning the Indonesia Open in a very short period of time. The ability to bounce back from a setback and recover to full fitness and play at the highest level is a huge quality in itself.
Hard Work: Srikanth is a very hard working player to go with his immense talent. After his ankle injury in October last year he was kept out of action for a considerable period of time. He released a video on his official Facebook page shortly afterwards proving the legitimacy of his hard working nature. In the video, Srikanth was seen sitting on a stool with a cast from his knee down. Even though he was unable to walk, the player was seen practising his shots with his trainer throwing one shuttlecock after another at him.
Fitness: Badminton is called the fastest racket sport in the world for a reason. The amount of swift movement it requires, calls for a lot of fitness from its players. Kidambi is one of the fittest player in the world and also one of the swiftest on the badminton court. He has the immense ability to effect a diving block off an opponents’ smash in one shot to hit a perfect soft lob in the next.
Composure: One needs to be calm and composed in crucial times. Indonesia Open semi final match against World Number 2 Son Wan-ho of the Korea Republic inched towards deuce in the deciding game. The 24-year old showed great composure, character and calmness to take advantage of his opportunities and take the game away 24-22 in a nail biting finish.
Maturity: The Hyderabadi star has grown immensely matured over time. During the whole of the tournament at the Indonesian capital he has committed very few errors. His judgements on his opponents’ shots have improved drastically. He even left a few shuttles at critical times that were out by just a few centimetres. He has also shown his maturity while going up against the best in the world, switching his playing styles based on his opponents’ strengths and weaknesses.
Accuracy: Accuracy is one very important trend required in a top class player. A great smash or a drop shot has no value if it is not accurately placed. Srikanth has the required accuracy in his shots which makes him more effective.
Consistency: Many players in the world have the ability to hit brilliant shots in matches. But very few have the ability to do that consistently. Srikanth is able enough when it comes to hitting brilliant shots on a consistent basis.
Certificate from the GREATEST: The ace shuttler has a unique record of being the solitary Indian to defeat arguably the Greatest Of All Time, Chinese Lin Dan in straight games in the final of China Open in 2014. Two years later the Indian went down fighting against the 2-time Olympic Gold Medallist in the Quarter Finals of the Rio Olympics in a three game thriller. After the match Dan gave a huge certificate to the Indian stating that he has all the tools to be a future Olympic Gold Medallist. He added that over the years he has grown to be a complete player on the court.
India is a growing super power in the world of Badminton with the likes of Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu, Parupalli Kashyap, HS Pranoy, B.Sai Praneeth and Srikanth Kidambi as her faces. Congratulations to Srikanth Kidambi on the Indonesia Open triumph. Here’s hoping that he and the others bring more glory to India.