Rio de Janeiro: India’s shuttler Kidambi Srikanth will face an enormous task of beating two-time Olympic gold medallist and five-time world champion Lin Dan of China in the quarter-finals of the men’s singles event at the Rio Olympics here on Wednesday.
World No.11 Srikanth stunned World No.5 Jorgensen 21-19, 21-19 in 42 minutes at the pre-quarters stage. And the stakes will be high as Srikanth will aim to prove that he has really come of age.
At Rio, Srikanth has joined Parupalli Kashyap, who was the first Indian men’s singles player to reach the quarter-finals of the Olympics at the London Games in 2012.
World No.3 Dan is considered as the most successful shuttler in history. The 32-year-old Chinese has completed the “Super Grand Slam”, having won all nine major titles in the badminton world: Olympic Games, World Championships, World Cup, Thomas Cup, Sudirman Cup, Super Series Masters Finals, All England Open, Asian Games, and Asian Championships — becoming the first and only player to achieve this feat.
Many feel that Dan is past his prime but the left-hander remains the strong opponent that he used to be. Moreover, having the experience of wriggling out of crunch situations will be in his favour.
On the other hand, the 23-year-old Guntur lad has won 2014 China Open Superseries Premier after beating Dan 21-19, 21-17 in the final, thus becoming the first Indian male shuttler to win a Superseries Premier title.
It will be the fourth meeting between them with the Chinese dominating twice, but Srikanth had an upper hand at the last meeting at the 2014 China Masters.
On his way to the quarter-finals, the Indian topped Group H by registering easy wins against Munoz Lino of Mexico and Henri Hurskainen of Sweden, setting up a clash with Dane Jan O Jorgensen in the pre-quarters.
By virtue of his exceptional defensive skills, the Dane gave a tough time to Srikanth but it was the Indian who managed to clinch the well fought battle with some body-line smashes.
After the pre-quarterfinals in the last two World Championships and the Asian Games, Srikanth has taken a good step forward, and it remains to be seen how well he tackles the extra attacking and rock solid defence of the God of badminton, Lin Dan.