Rio de Janeiro, Aug 17 (IANS) India’s Kidambi Srikanth went down fighting to two-time defending champion Lin Dan of China in the quarter-finals of the men’s singles event of badminton competitions at the Olympic Games here on Wednesday.
Five-time world champion Dan edged World No.11 Srikanth 21-6, 11-21, 21-18 to enter the semi-finals for the third consecutive time.
With this win, the 32-year-old Chinese legend took a 3-1 head-to-head lead against the 23-year-old Indian shuttler.
In the semi-finals, Dan will face his long-time rival and Malaysian veteran Lee Chong Wei, who crushed Chinese Taipei’s Tou Tien Chen in a dominating 21-9, 21-15 victory.
However, Dan will not be happy with the way he was stretched against Srikanth, who was playing in his maiden Olympics.
In the first game, the pressure of the occasion and his towering opponent mounted over Srikanth as the Chinese surged to an early 5-1 lead and then increased it to 10 points to make it 11-1 in just seven minutes.
Srikanth, however, won two points after that but Dan just got stronger with each point and maintained his Lead.
The Guntur lad, who made a lot of errors with his net play could not find his feet on court and hence surrendered the first game 6-21.
The second game saw a little turnaround of the events as Srikanth raced away a three-point lead at the start and then blazed into a quick 6-3 lead.
Slowly, the second game witnessed errors creeping into Dan’s play while Srikanth showed his potential against one of the best shuttlers in the world circuit to make it 11-5. Dan seemed to be struggling in the defence of cross-court smashes from Srikanth.
After the mid-game interval, the Indian shuttler seemed more assured and transformed, as he started the avalanche of points to overpower his opponent.
In the last few points, he ensured that there was no more hiccups, as the Indian proved his superiority over the Chinese opponent to clinch the second game.
In the third and decider game, the Chinese dominated the proceedings for the initial minutes but then Srikanth diminished the three points to make it 6-6.
Soon, Srikanth managed to break the momentum and went into the mid-game break 11-8 after turning it around in the last few points.
Srikanth, who was stubborn and fought back every time, was forced into moving more sharply and as a result he lost a few points to give away his slender lead before surrendering the third game 18-21.
The big-game mentality of Dan helped him escape in the end as Srikanth was forced to make a couple of unforced errors.
After his quarter-final battle, Srikanth said he was happy with his performance but just could not manage to overcome Dan.
“I was never unhappy with the way I was playing. I was always playing well. It’s just that I couldn’t win or finish the matches well, although at times I was actually dominating,” the Guntur lad said after his defeat.
On being asked about his tactics against the Super Dan he replied: “You can’t really plan anything against these kinds of players. And you can’t always repeat a game.”
“There wasn’t a special strategy. We just wanted to be aggressive and not commit simple mistakes. Overall there wasn’t any special strategy, but to just stay in the rally,” added the 23-year-old.
In the other semi-final, world No.2 Chen Long of China will face Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen, who moved past Britain’s Rajiv Ouseph 21-12, 21-16.
Two-time reigning world champion Long battled past Son Wan Ho of South Korea 21-11, 18-21, 21-11.