<
>

Giant-killer Nishimoto stands between Srikanth and French Open title

CLAUS FISKER/AFP/Getty Images

Kidambi Srikanth will look to become only the fourth male player in history to win four singles Superseries titles in a calendar year when he takes on Japan's Kenta Nishimoto in the French Open final on Sunday. Lin Dan, Lee Chong Wei and Chen Long are the only three players to accomplish this feat and if Srikanth wins, he will also become the first Indian to win the French Open since it became a Superseries event in 2007.

Nishimoto will also attempt to become the first man from his country to win the tournament. If he wins, Nishimoto will join the supremely-gifted Kenta Momota as the only Japanese players to win a men's singles Superseries title.

Kidambi Srikanth vs. Kenta Nishimoto, 6 PM IST (approx.)

Head-to-head: Srikanth leads 1-0

2017 record:

Srikanth - Won 36, Lost 8

Nishimoto - Won 32, Lost 17

Recent record (last 10 matches):

Srikanth - Won 9, Lost 1

Nishimoto - Won 8, Lost 2

Who is Nishimoto?

Nishimoto is just the seventh qualifier to reach a men's singles Superseries final in 11 years. Although the 23-year-old has not made a Superseries final before, he won silver at this year's Summer Universaide, or Student World Championships, which was held at the same time as the World Championships in Glasgow.

Nishimoto has had a giant-killing run to the final, accounting for the likes of Lee, B Sai Praneeth and Anthony Sinisuka Ginting. While Lee is a three-time French Open champion, both Praneeth and Ginting have won Superseries titles this year. Nishimoto entered the final after defeating the prodigiously-talented Dane Anders Antonsen 21-17, 21-15 in the semi-finals. After trailing 2-8 in the early minutes of the first game, Nishimoto dominated the rest of the match, thanks to his fearless strokeplay.

Their history

Srikanth and Nishimoto faced each other in the first round of this year's Singapore Open Superseries, where Srikanth won comfortably 21-12, 21-11 in just 32 minutes.

What could decide the match?

Unlike last week's Denmark Open final, where Srikanth won one of the most one-sided Superseries finals ever against Lee Hyun Il, this one is likely to be more competitive and full of attacking play, especially if both Srikanth and Nishimoto play fearlessly and without nerves.

The unforced error count will decide the match as Nishimoto in particular likes pulling the trigger and can be guilty of being overambitious at times. Srikanth has a vastly superior defence but if Nishimoto hits the lines with unerring accuracy, like he has all tournament, Srikanth will have a tough fight on his hands.

Fatigue factor

While Srikanth will be playing his 10th match in 12 days, Nishimoto will be playing his seventh in six days as he had to win two qualifying rounds to make the main draw. Nishimoto has already spent four hours and 34 minutes on court in this tournament, in comparison to two hours and 42 minutes for Srikanth. Though Srikanth has spent lesser time on court this week, he seemed more fatigued than Nishimoto did in their respective semi-finals. However, he should have one last big effort for the week left in the tank.

Prediction: Srikanth in two games