World number 1 Kidambi Srikanth had to settle with silver after losing 21-19, 14-21, 14-21 to Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei in the final of Men’s Singles in the Commonwealth Games.
That being said, the Malaysian veteran has now become first badminton player to win three singles gold medals, having won gold in 2006 in Melbourne and 2010 in Delhi. Srikanth, who had defeated Lee 21-17, 21-14 in 43 minutes during India’s mixed team gold win over Malaysia ealier in the tournament, couldn’t repeat the feat as the Malaysian had answers to everything Srikanth was smashing at him.
Despite Srikanth winning the first game, it was Lee who had a positive start to the match. Two back to back smashes followed by an error from Srikanth took Lee three points up in no time. Srikanth, who surpassed Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen to become world’s number 1 just three days ago, opened his account while Lee had five points to his kitty.
Climbing up the ladder, Srikanth went on to reducing the deficit before eventually taking the lead for the first. By the first break, the Gunter-born was leading the tie 11-9. In a close fought encounter, both Kidambi and Lee were breathing heavily on the neck of each other, hardly allowing an inch of space to gather points.
Lee eventually gathered pace and made it all square at 19-19, but that was it for the Malaysian in the first game as Kidambi clinched the round 21-19.
Srikanth showed some excellent defensive technique in the second game, but saw himself trailing as the game approached its second break. By the time, it seemed like Srikanth started losing the momentum and this is when Lee picked up pace. Trying as he might, Srikanth did everything to launch a comeback, but such was Lee’s brilliance that he was restricted to 14 points. By the end of the second game, the scoreline read 21-19, 14-21.
The third and the final game was all about Lee Chong Wei’s absolute brilliance. The Malaysian was off to a great start and by the break, he lead Srikanth 11-5. Lee was simply all over the court and had answers to everything Srikanth threw at him. Srikanth tried reducing the deficit but Lee was simply too hot to handle. In one hour and four minutes, the world witnessed an absolute masterclass from a man who locked horns with a player a decade younger to him.
“Lee Chong Wei, Lee Chong Wei,” the arena was roaring as the Malaysian picked up his match point and dropped himself to ground. Meanwhile, for Srikanth, this silver is his first singles medal at the Commonwealth Games.