India's Kidambi Srikanth goes down to Viktor Axelsen

Women's singles star Akane Yamaguchi eases into second round

By Team KT

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Olympic and world champion Viktor Axelsen. — Supplied photo
Olympic and world champion Viktor Axelsen. — Supplied photo

Published: Wed 18 Jan 2023, 6:38 PM

Kidambi Srikanth fought hard but could not stop Olympic and world champion Viktor Axelsen in the opening round of the Yonex-Sunrise India Open 2023, at the the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium in New Delhi on Wednesday.

The World No. 14 Indian relied on his attacking instinct and played his trademark jump smashes to gain points. But Axelsen managed to stand strong to win the match 21-14, 21-19 to register his seventh straight victory over his Indian opponent.

In the day’s other matches, second seed Lee Zii Jia and Denmark’s Anders Antonsen were taken to the distance by their relatively unknown opponents while a visibly tired Kodai Naraoka of Japan fizzled out in three games against third seed Loh Kean Yew of Singapore.

Antonsen, who has been struggling with injuries, came from a game down to beat France’s Toma Junior Popov 18-21, 21-19, 21-13 before Lee was made to work hard for a 20-22, 21-19, 21-12 win by Indonesia’s Shesar Hiren Rhustavito before Srikanth and Axelsen took the court.

Earlier, the other marquee clash of the day between former world champion Loh and the up and coming Naraoka, however, failed to live up to expectations as the Japanese, who last week reached the Malaysia Open final, clearly struggled with his stamina after winning the first game and lost 18-21, 21-9, 21-7.

There were no surprises in the women’s singles section with top seed Akane Yamaguchi of Japan, second seed An Se-Young of South Korea and 4th seed He Bingjiao of China advancing to the second round without losing a game.

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