World Tour Finals: Srikanth makes winning start, Ashwini-Sikki pair loses

Indian shuttler Kidambi Srikanth secured a straight-game win over France’s Toma Junior Popov to make an impressive start to his men’s singles campaign at the season-ending BWF World Tour Finals here on Wednesday.

Srikanth, who had reached the knockout stage of the 2014 edition of the year-ending event, beat Popov 21-14, 21-16 in 42 minutes in his opening match of group B.

The women’s doubles pair of Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy, however, lost 14-21, 18-21 to the second-seeded Japanese combination of Nami Matsuyama and Chiharu Shida in their opening group B match.

Srikanth, a former world no.1, displayed a compact game. He was alert and agile on the court and found points with his attacks against the world no.33 Frenchman.

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The opening game was a tight affair in the initial part with the duo fighting tooth and nail.

Srikanth managed to eke out a slender 11-9 lead at the break and then came out with five straight points to move ahead to 16-10 and soon closed out the game.

In the second game, Srikanth lagged 1-4 initially, but he soon recovered to once again grab a two-point advantage at the interval.

Just like the first game, he made his way to a healthy 14-9 lead before moving to 19-14. A long shot from his opponent gave Srikanth four match points, and he sealed it with some superb netplay.

Srikanth will next face Thailand’s three-time junior world champion Kunlavut Vitidsarn.

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