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India Today, Suhani Singh
April 20, 2015
Kidambi Srikanth's blistering rise up the world badminton rankings has set him up as a pote ntial successor to his idol, P. Gopichand
Kidambi Srikanth had just got a new badminton racquet when he sat down in front of the TV to watch Pullela Gopichand win the All England Badminton Championships in 2001. Six months later, along with his older brother K. Nandagopal, he would meet the player at a felicitation ceremony at NTR Indoor Stadium near his home in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh. Srikanth's father KVS Krishna remembers Gopichand's mother Subbaravamma telling his sons, "You have to become like Gopi one day." Srikanth took the advice to heart. He was eight.
Fourteen years later, with two Superseries, including the recent India Open, and two Grand Prix titles under his belt, Srikanth, 22, is a promising candidate to match, if not better, the laurels collected by Gopichand, his idol and now his coach. Srikanth garnered his first success on the international circuit in 2013, winning the Thailand Open, but it was in the following year that he really took off, swiftly rising in the world rankings from 47th to 4th.
While the focus has for long been on Saina Nehwal, who became the first woman world number 1 from the country at the India Open, Srikanth has started giving her company at the top of badminton's global pecking order.
"He is an intelligent player, and fearless," says Gopichand. "He learns very quickly and doesn't choke on court." Srikanth's attacking style of play-his round-the-head, deep, well-placed, fast smashes, sometimes struck at over 400 kmph, are lethal-combined with his cool on-court demeanour makes him a delight to watch. It was this combination that took five-time world champion and two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan-with the home crowd rooting for him-by surprise at the 2014 China Open. Gopichand was the first to sight this "surprise" element in Srikanth's game, noting that in an era of excessive video analysis, his game wasn't "easy for people to understand".
All this from a player who took to the sport only because his older brother had. Srikanth left home when he was nine to join Nandagopal at the Sports Authority of Andhra Pradesh in Visakhapatnam and later in Khammam. In 2008, Nandagopal joined the Gopichand Badminton Academy in Hyderabad; Srikanth followed a year later, aged 17. Their father, Krishna, remembers quarrelling frequently with his wife, who was unhappy that both her sons were sent away at a young age. He pacified her holding out hope of future laurels. "I felt badminton was the best as it is an individual sport and (you succeed) purely on merit," Krishna says. "And if by the grace of God they were good, they would be unstoppable."
Srikanth's coaches though weren't sure that he had the physical prowess to succeed in singles, so early on he also played doubles-men's with T. Nagendra and mixed with Manisha K. "We had to force him to eat," says Krishna. "He wasn't energetic." Still, he excelled, ranking number one in under-19 men's and mixed doubles.
Kidambi Srikanth's blistering rise up the world badminton rankings has set him up as a potential successor to his idol, P. Gopichand. It was Gopichand, who saw in the skinny youngster talent waiting to be honed. He asked Srikanth, then 19, to concentrate solely on singles. It took him a while to garner success but when it eventually came-first in Thailand in 2013 and then in honours-rich 2014-there was no stopping him. The turning point, Srikanth says, was his battle with meningitis in July last year. "The illness changed me. I became more passionate than ever. I started training a lot harder," he says. "And since then I have been lucky to get everything right and win crucial points in every match."
Gopichand believes his two straight losses to Korean Son Wan-ho-in men's singles and team events-at the Asian Games in Incheon in September last year and the subsequent chat between the coach and the player that seeded Srikanth's rapid growth. "He understood his mistakes. He now tries new things on court."
Having proven that he is no one-hit wonder-after finishing runner-up at the Syed Modi International Badminton Championships 2015, he won the Swiss Open, beating Viktor Axelsen of Denmark-Srikanth now faces the added pressure of being the country's highest-ranked male badminton player. He doesn't mind the challenge though. Indeed, he has set his sights much higher: a medal at the World Badminton Championships like P.V. Sindhu and then at the Olympics like Saina Nehwal. "It is beyond doubt that he is here for the long run," says Gopichand. "His opponents will find ways to crack his game. He has to build on his strengths to make it difficult for them to exploit his weaknesses, and he has to stay physically fit."
If his mother has her way, Srikanth won't have a weakness. She is leaving nothing to chance: she has made him wear three rudraksh beads around his neck and tie threads on his wrists for luck. "She has asked me to do just one thing, so I don't question it," he says. Srikanth still shares a room with his brother at Gopichand's academy. After many quarrels between them, "things are getting a little cooler now," he laughs. When not practising, he watches tennis, especially when his favourite player Roger Federer is in action. He follows cricket, "of course", and after a hard day on court occasionally unwinds with a film. "I am happy with the way my life is now," he says. So are badminton fans with his game.
July 2014: near-fatal brain fever
When brain fever almost got Srikanth
Manne Ratnakar The Times of India Nov 17 2014 Hyderabad
From the jaws of death to the podium in the Mecca of badminton -China, Kidambi Srikanth has endured a rollercoaster ride in 2014.
Srikanth was found unconscious in the washroom in the first week of July .Neither chief coach Pullela Gopichand nor his mother Subbaravamma, who looks after the Academy, were present at the venue. The 21-year old, who is also the first Indian to win a Grand Prix Gold outside In dia, was shifted to a corporate hos pital where the doctors said he had brain fever. A worried Gopi and Srikanth's family waited with bated breath as the shuttler was recovering in the ICU. “We were worried about his survival. He went through the most dangerous phase of his life. From then on it was a big task for us to motivate him. He struggled in a few tournaments after that. But all along he was confident and working very hard,“ Gopichand said, adding that beating Lin Dan in China was no mean task.
The Guntur lad arrived at the Gopichand Academy in 2008-09 in dramatic circumstances. His brother Nandagopal is a trainee at the Academy and Srikanth was testing the patience of his parents without doing anything worthwhile. It was at this juncture Srikanth's father pleaded with Gopi to allow his younger son to join the academy. Srikanth was soon drafted into the doubles and mixed doubles training teams. By 2011, Gopi noticed that the teenager has a lot of promise. He soon moved Srikanth to the singles and it is then the career graph of Srikanth began to rise.
During the Indian Badminton League, coach of world No.1 Lee Chong Wei, Tae Je Bok asked an Indian official about Srikanth. Tae told the official that Srikanth resembles Wei in his movement and approach. His prophecy that Srikanth will one day become a great player came true in Nov 2014.
2015: Runner-up in Indonesia Masters Grand Prix Gold
The Times of India, Dec 07 2015
Srikanth goes down fighting in final
At the end of a gruelling, hard-fought and enthralling encounter, Kidambi Srikanth finished runner-up in the men's singles of the $120,000 Indonesia Masters Grand Prix Gold in Malang, Indonesia, on Sunday. The 22-year-old, did all that he could, but on a day when the crowd and chair umpire turned against him even lady luck deserted him. He came as close as 21-20 and then 22-21 in the decider but committed unforced errors twice to hand over the crown, which his friend HS Prannoy had won last year, to local lad Tommy Sugiarto. The Indonesian second seed came back after losing the first and survived some anxious moments towards the end of t
Beats world no 1 to enter Indonesian final
Kidambi Srikanth stunned Son Wan-Ho 21-15, 14-21, 24-22
Kidambi Srikanth was at his grittiest best as he shocked world No.1 Son Wan Ho for a place in the final but giant-killer H S Prannoy's battle ended in agony at the $1,000,000 Indonesia Super Series Premier, here on Saturday.
Srikanth fought like a man possessed to outclass Son Wan Ho in an energy-sapping men's singles match that lasted an hour and 12 minutes here.
Srikanth had a 2-4 head-to-head record against Son, having lost to the Korean four times in the last four meetings but all that didn't matter as he survived a battle of attrition at the Jakarta Convention Center (JCC).
This is the fourth Super Series final for Srikanth, who had reached the summit clash in Singapore in April and won the 2014 China Open and the 2015 India Open.
Beats Sakai to win Indonesia Open
Srikanth looked in the zone as he easily downed world no 47 Sakai in straight games 21-11, 21-19
The Indonesian Open is Srikanth's second Super Series Premier title after he won the 2014 China Open Super Series Premier
Srikanth had finished runner-up at Singapore Open after losing to compatriot B Sai Praneeth in the summit clash last month
JAKARTA: Indian shuttler Kidambi Srikanth clinched his third Super Series title, lifting the Indonesia Open men's singles trophy with a straight-game victory over Japanese qualifier Kazumasa Sakai in the final.
World No.22 Srikanth, who had reached the finals at Singapore Open in April, outclassed Sakai, ranked 47th, 21-11 21-19 in just 37 minutes to take home a cheque of $75,000.
Srikanth played a patient game and didn't allow his opponent to engage in any fast-paced rally. He dictated the pace with his precise angled returns and unleashed his smashes at perfect intervals to down his rival.
Beats Son Wan Ho in Oz Open
Five days after defeating world No.1 ys after defeating world No.1 Son Wan Ho in Jakarta, the Indian achieved the feat again, this time in Sydney . Srikanth knocked out the top-seed Korean in three games to storm into the men's singles quarterfinal of the Australian Open Super Series Badminton.
Srikanth was slow to start. But as the was slow to start. But as the match progressed, he got into full flow and registered a sensational 15-21, 21-13, 21-13 victory. The 57-minute second round clash saw Srikanth playing some extraordinary shots in the last two games, to which the leading shuttler in the world had no answers.
Srikanth wins Australian Open
Australian Open Super Series Final: Kidambi Srikanth beat Chen Long 22-20, 21-16 Kidambi Srikanth contested his third straight Super Series final and second in two weeks and came out victorious.
Rises to no.8
June 2017: Kidambi Srikanth returned to the no.8 position in the world rankings.
Oct: Wins Denmark Open
Srikanth clinched his third Superseries title of the year with a huge straight-game victory over Korean veteran Lee Hyun II in a lop-sided final at the $750,000 Denmark Open.
Playing an opponent 12 years his senior, Srikanth asserted his dominance with a 21-10, 21-5 win over 37-year-old Lee in just 25 minutes. The World No. 8 didn’t give any chance to Lee, who looked a pale shadow of the man who had beaten World No. 2 Son Wan Ho in the semifinals.
The two were tied 4-4 before Srikanth changed gears and used his deception and powerful smashes to lead 9-5. Lee had no answers to Srikanth’s razor-sharp smashes and crosscourt returns and the Indian went ahead 14-8. Lee also made judgement errors at the baseline and miscued strokes as Srikanth extended his advantage to 17-8 with another smash.
Oct: Wins French Open title
Srikanth outplayed Nishimoto 21-14, 21-13 in a lop-sided final that lasted just 34 minutes
He became the first Indian player to win four Super Series titles in a year
He clinched titles at Indonesia, Australia and Denmark earlier this year
Riding the crest of his sparkling form Kidambi Srikanth dished out a blemish less performance to collect his fourth Super Series title of the year. The 25-year-old dazzled in the 'City of Love' to become the first Indian French Open champion.
Srikanth took just 34 minutes to ease past Japanese qualifier Kento Nishimoto in the Super Series final 21-14, 21-13 at the Stade Pierre De Coubertin. In the process Srikanth surpassed Saina Nehwal as the only Indian to win four Super Series titles in a year. Saina won three in 2010.
"I feel good winning two titles in two weeks. I am lucky to pull off some close matches this week. I thank everyone who helped me doing this," an elated Srikanth said after the win. With his outstanding feats in 2017, Srikanth has entered the league of Indian legends like Prakash Padukone and Pullela Gopichand. The Guntur-lad is also the only Indian to win back-to-back titles i.e two titles in two consecutive weeks in a season. He is the fourth in the world behind legends like Lin Dan, Lee Chong Wei and Chen Long to four men's singles titles.
Such an outstanding feat came with an easy effort in the final. The title clash on Sunday resembled last week's demolition act, where he mowed down Lee Hyun Il of Korea for the Denmark Open title.
The world No.4 crushed the Japanese qualifier with an aggressive power play. Trailing 5-9 in the first game, Srikanth suddenly changed gears by finishing off the rallies with ferocious overhead smashes. A couple pierced the rival's court with breakneck speed of 392 and 377 km/h.
The firecracker shots made holes in Nishimoto's defence. Unable to return them or even reach them, Nishimoto lost momentum and with that confidence as Srikanth raced ahead to 11-9 and then to 15-11 in no time.
The Hyderabadi shuttler, who switched from doubles to singles at the behest of his coach Gopichand, was on a different altitude from then on. Relying entirely on his attacking prowess Srikanth closed out the first game at 21-14 in just 16 minutes.
The Indian was even more dominant in the second as he started off with a 4-0 lead and was up 11-5 at the break. Thereafter, he controlled the game and stumped his opponent.
Gopichand was delighted with Srikanth's show. "It's a phenomenal achievement. Some fine badminton. Very very attacking, overall I think he really played a perfect game.
2017, Nov.: no. 2 in world
On a high after four Super Series titles this year, Kidambi Srikanth moved two places up to a career-best world No.2 ranking, according to the rankings released by the Badminton World Federation (BWF).
Srikanth with 73,403 points is behind world champion Viktor Axelsen of Denmark (77,930). A victory in China Open will take Srikanth to the No.1 spot. HS Prannoy , who gave a tough time to Srikanth in the semifinals of the French Open last week, also improved a place to No.11, his best so far. In women's singles PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal remained at No.2 and No.11, respectively. Sindhu with 82,486 points is 13,043 points behind world No.1 Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei.
Ashwini-Sikki may qualify for Finals to be held in December
The women's doubles pair of Ashwini Ponnappa and Sikki Reddy have a good chance of qualifying for the year-end Super Series Finals to be held in Dubai in December. Srikanth and Sindhu have already qualified in the singles category .
2017, November/ World’s highest-earning men's singles player
Kidambi Srikanth’s dream run in 2017 has helped his yearly prize money earnings sky-rocket to Rs 1.54 crore and he will end up as the top grosser among men shuttlers this year. Ranked No.2 in the world, Srikanth has a chance of becoming No.1 in December. But even if he remains No.2, he will earn more than other men shuttlers.
Four Super Series titles helped him pocket $230,423. Interestingly, his earnings are almost three times higher than the next highest-earning men's singles player — Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia. The former world No.1, who has won the All England title and finished runner-up in two Super Series events, has earned $86,275 so far this year.
Srikanth has won three of the most lucrative events this year. The two top prize money events are the Indonesia Open Super Series Premier ($1 million) and next month’s Dubai Super Series Finals ($1 million). Srikanth earned $75,000 by clinching the men's singles title in Indonesia, the highest for him so far. He got $56,250 each for triumphing in Australia and Denmark. He earned $24,375 for winning the French Open and $16,597.50 for finishing runner-up in the Singapore Open.
Even if Srikanth doesn't participate or do well in the other two major tournaments this year — Hong Kong Super Series and Dubai Super Series Finals — he will still end up as the top grosser.
Such has been Srikanth’s dominance this year that even the women's singles highestearner Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei trails him with earnings of $170,475. PV Sindhu is fourth in the list with $97,925.
Srikanth felt good to top the money list. "It is really a nice feeling. But I will focus on my game and the processes involved to become a top player and leave the business side to my management firm Baseline Ventures," Srikanth told ToI.
Both Srikanth and Sindhu are managed by Baseline. The Guntur lad has also earned close to Rs 8 crore from endorsements in the last 10 to 12 months.
April: becomes World No 1
Srikanth has moved to the top of the men’s singles rankings with 76895 points
In 2017, he became the first Indian to win back-to-back Super Series titles.
Kidambi Srikanth has scaled the peak of the men’s BWF men’s singles rankings for the first time, his place at No 1 confirmed on Thursday to further underscore how potent a force he has become in world badminton. The 25-year-old shuttler’s prolific form in 2017, during which he won a record four Super Series titles, has helped him reach 76895 rating points, the best ever by an Indian male badminton player.
Srikanth, who was crowned Sportsperson of the Year at the third Mahindra Scorpio Times of India Sports Awards (TOISA) in February, today displaced Denmark’s Victok Axelsen from the top spot. He was a member of the Indian team that won the country’s first mixed team gold medal at the ongoing Commonwealth Games in Australia, and looks primed to win his first individual medal at the CWG as India’s shuttlers promise a gold rush.
It truly has been a remarkable rise for Srikanth, one of Dronacharya Pullela Gopichand’s pupils. His ascension to No 1 in the BWF rankings began during a successful 2016, in which he won two gold medals in the men's team and men's singles of the 2016 South Asian Games, followed by reaching the quarter-finals of the Rio Olympics. For his successful 2016, Srikanth was the recipient of the TOISA Badminton Player of the Year [People’s Choice].
Then came 2017, the year that changed his life. Srikanth won four Super Series titles, the most by any Indian badminton player ever, and finished runner-up in the final of the Singapore Open Super Series, where he lost to compatriot B Sai Praneeth in what was the first instance of two Indian shuttlers reaching a Super Series final.
Srikanth’s first Super Series title came when he beat Japan’s Kazumasa Sakai 21-11, 21-19 to win the Indonesia Open Super Series. A week later, beat world and Olympic champion Chen Long in straight games 22-20, 21-16 to claim the Australia Open Super Series. With these wins, he became the first Indian to claim back-to-back Super Series titles and subsequently broke into the top ten of the BWF men’s singles rankings for the first time in ten months, up to eighth.
In October 2017, Srikanth became the second Indian after Prakash Padukone to win the Denmark Open, the second Indian, after Saina, and first male to claim three Super Series in a year. History was made a week later, when he lifted the French Open by beating Kento Nishimoto 21-14, 21-13. With this, Srikanth moved from No 4 to a No 2 in the BWF men’s singles rankings.