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Srikanth shocks Christie to enter second round of Malaysia Open

India’s Kidambi Srikanth progressed to the second round of Malaysia Open Super 1000 badminton tournament with a come-from-behind win over world number 5 Indonesian Jonatan Christie here on Tuesday.

The former world No. 1 will face Hong Kong's NG Ka Long Angus next.(Deepak Gupta/Hindustan Times)
The former world No. 1 will face Hong Kong’s NG Ka Long Angus next.(Deepak Gupta/Hindustan Times)

The 30-year-old from Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, who has been going through a lean phase for quite some time, notched up a stunning 12-21 21-18 21-16 win over sixth seed Christie in the opening round match that lasted an hour and five minutes.

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The former world No. 1 will face Hong Kong’s NG Ka Long Angus next.

A 2021 world championships silver medallist, Srikanth has often struggled to sustain the pressure in a three-game match to make a number of early exits but he looked in fine fettle this day as he kept attacking despite losing the opening game, to come out victorious.

Srikanth always had some tough battles against the Indonesian, whom he had defeated six times in 11 meetings.

Playing the first match of the new season, Srikanth didn’t have a good start as he lagged 4-7 initially and though he managed to make it 8-7 briefly, all hopes went up in smoke when Christie blazed off nine straight points to leave him stranded.

With Parupalli Kashyap in the coach’s chair, Srikanth opened up a 4-0 lead in the second game but Christie again zoomed ahead to grab an 11-7 advantage at the break. The Indonesian also held a 17-14 cushion at one stage but Srikanth then went on to win seven of the next eight points to roar back into the contest.

In the decider, Srikanth again found the going tough as Christie dominated the rallies, moving from 5-0 to 14-9.

The Indian, however, used his attacking returns and perfect placements to make Christie twist and turn as the tide started to change.

The Indonesian also made a few unforced errors as Srikanth turned the tables with a seven-point burst to move ahead 16-14. The Indian kept things tight thereafter and punched the air after his opponent went long again.

The women’s doubles pair of Tanisha Castro and Ashwini Ponnappa advanced to the second round after beating the American pair of Francesca Corbette and Allison Lee 21-13 21-16 in the opening round.

The Indian pair takes on the seventh seeded Japanese duo of Mayu Matsumoto and Wakana Nagahara in the next round. Matsumoto and Nagahara had beaten the Indian pair of Rutaparna Panda and Swetaparna Panda 21-12 21-11 in the first round.

In women’s singles, Aakarshi Kashyap lost to Zhang Yi Man of China 15-21 15-21 in the opening round.

The men’s doubles pair of M R Arjun and Dhruva Kapila also lost their opening round match 16-21 19-21 to the Chinese Taipei pair of Fang-Chih Lee and Fang-Jen Lee.

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