All England Open Badminton Championships: Kento Momota vs Kidambi Srikanth Match Highlights
The distance between Kidambi Srikanth and Kento Momota opened like the jaws of a beast – wider in the opening set than the second and final one. But in both cases, Srikanth’s resistance was chomped with such definitive relish by the Japanese World No 1 that it left no one in doubt that was enjoying the Friday banquet in the quarters of the All England. Srikanth’s struggle ended at 21-12, 21-16 in 44 minutes. The haunting memories of Momota’s blitz will last longer.
Srikanth had all the right ideas, sticking to his plans, showing intent in his smashes and even dazzling with flicked drops as the Indian started gamely to reach 9-all. The Japanese play an edgily controlled game, tautly pulling at strings and staying so accurate in his execution that even long rallies feel snappy and cutting.
It’s in his accelerations – mid-point and mid-set that Kento Momota forces the choke-holds. This happened again as he bristled to go into the first break at 11-9. As if he had merely paused the surroundings and pressed ‘Play,’ he strung together 7 more points – 9 in all, to race away to a breathless lead and inch towards closing out the opener.
By the time the 26-year-old Indian could catch his breath, the Japanese had pocketed the first set – the speed spike in finishing points taking a toll on Srikanth.
The longest convention of the match belonged to the Indian – 39 odd shots, wrapped up by a delectable cross-court. But Srikanth had no control over the rest of them, impaled as his movements were by the dizzy pace with which the shuttle jumped on him from the other side.
Momota has crushed Srikanth five times last year and never lost since his enforced return of a year and a half caused by a casino gambling-related ban. The break has left the Japanese hungrier and ruthless – as he tries to make up for lost time, and the months spent in lower rung events collecting ranking points.
Momota would open a lead early in the second moving from 3-3 to 12-4, and then leave Srikanth playing an impossible catch-up. It’s when Srikanth’s net-game awoke and the aggression on the forecourt – his best trait – got him closer to 16 points. He even induced an error on Momota’s forehand. But the trapdoor shut only after he was firmly gobbled up.