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Kidambi Srikanth lifts Indonesia Open

AP/PTI Photo

India's Kidambi Srikanth lifted his second Superseries Premier title after defeating Japan's Kazumasa Sakai 21-11, 21-19 at the Indonesia Open in Jakarta on Sunday.

With this win, Srikanth became the first Indian man to win the title and the second-most successful Indian after Saina Nehwal in Superseries events. Srikanth has now won three Superseries titles, while Saina has won ten Superseries titles so far -- three of which have come at the Indonesia Open.

This was Srikanth's second successive and fourth Superseries final overall. He had previously won the China Open in 2014 and India Open in 2015 before losing to compatriot B Sai Praneeth in the final of the Singapore Open earlier this year.

Looking calm and resolute, Srikanth breezily took a lead of 8-5 in the first game. Apart from his trademark smashes, he took good advantage of his speed and height to take an eight-point lead at 17-9. Sakai, on the other hand, struggled with the drift as he netted several crucial shots. Srikanth showed the variety in his strokes with drop shots to Sakai's backhand, winning two out of the final three points, to win the game 21-11 in 13 minutes.

Misjudgments were consistent throughout the two games as both players continued to misjudge each other's lifts, leaving shuttles that landed well within the baseline. A similar misjudgment resulted in Sakai getting an 8-4 lead over the Indian in the early stages of the second game. Srikanth seemed to lose focus as he missed a crucial smash at 3-6 and sprayed several wide shots under pressure.

As Srikanth trailed 6-11 at the changeover, Sakai looked keen to dominate with his quick smashes. However, his struggle with the drift continued as Srikanth soon reduced the gap to 10-12. It was at this point when Srikanth turned it around with three back-to-back down-the-line smashes to take the lead at 14-13.

Talking about the same, Srikanth said, "I think that was the turning point of the match. Coming over that deficit changed the course of the game and helped me gain confidence to win the match."

As Sakai - with his speed and swift movement - led 17-15, Srikanth's brought his attacking play out, forcing the Japanese to make unforced errors, leveling scores at 19-19. The final two points were won via Srikanth's trademark cross-court smashes, resulting in him sealing the match and the title in straight games.