When Lin Dan steps onto a badminton court, he makes the shuttle obey him. He sways the crowd, tantalizes his opponents and surprises even himself with the amount of perfection he has acquired over the years. He is fast, he is agile but most importantly he is someone who understands the game the best. He is the Sachin Tendulkar of the badminton world, you aspire to become like him but then you see him play and you give up on that thought. But every once in a while an inspired performance overshadows even the greats of the game, and Srikant Kidambi came up with one such performance in the China Super Series.
Srikant has always been one of the most talented Indian badminton players, being someone who has all the shots in the book but has always been erratic much.
China Super Series Final
But on 17th Novemeber 2014 it was this erratic gameplay that helped him secure a freak win over Super Dan in the Premier Super Series at China. Lin Dan hadn’t lost a match in China for a decade and even though he was returning from an injury, I don’t think many would have given the young Srikant a chance against the experienced Lin Dan.
Srikant, however, did the unthinkable; he defied logic to beat Lin Dan in straight sets in his first Super Series final. There were no half measures from the Indian who had just recently shifted his focus to singles after continuous persuasion from his coach P. Gopichand.
Srikant caught Lin Dan off guard completely, dominating the net and never missing out on any opportunity of planting that overhead smash into the ground. He took a commanding lead in the first set and despite a mini revival towards the end of the set, Srikant held his nerve to win it 21-19.
But everyone in the arena was aware of Dan’s penchant for comebacks. It wasn’t the first time that he had fallen behind in a game and it wouldn’t be the last. There was this air of expectancy from Lin Dan, he just had to comeback, it was a given.
However, the young Indian had other ideas. It was all or nothing for him and he didn’t complicate things even after going 1-0 up. The strategy remained same, he had to thump smashes and take chances at the net to have any chance of uprooting thr world’s best and that is exactly what he did.
He kept the intensity high, did not panic towards the end and never resorted a cconservative approach during the match. He won the second set 21-17 to clinch the title and create waves in the international badminton circuit. Srikant Kidambi had arrived
Ever since Gopichand started mentoring Srikant, he wanted him to have higher ambitions and thus it was only logical that he moved beyond just doubles as he had the necessary court coverage and the potential to uproot any player on his day. Srikant took the advise and now he is here in the Olympic Quarter finals against the same opponent. The same opponent who let Srikant come to the limelight and become a household name in India.
But how does he approach it this time?
The same way he did close to two years back- Go all out!
His erratic and bold game plan helped him cross the line in China and only the same type of gameplan can work against Lin Dan tonight as well.
All the best Srikant Kidambi