Malang (Indonesia):  Indian shuttler Kidambi Srikanth lost his men’s singles final at the $120,000 Indonesian Masters Grand Prix Gold here on Sunday.
Both shuttlers managed to save two match points each but it was Sugiarto who showed nerves of steel to overcome the top seeded Indian 17-21, 21-13, 24-22 in the summit clash that lasted a minute less than an hour at the Gedung Graha Cakrawala.
This was second seed Sugiarto’s third win over the Guntur-born lad in four meetings but the first contest in a final. While World No.12 Sugiarto, son of former World Champion Icuk Sugiarto, took home $9,000 for his victory, Srikanth earned $4,560 for his runner-up finish.
The two top seeds began aggressively exchanging serves in the first game. The Indian looked more confident which led him to open a gap of 13-9. The Indonesian closed it down to 13-all but Srikanth pocketed the next six points to reach 19-13.
It was only a matter of time before Srikanth bagged the game, taking the advantage in the match.
Sugiarto came back well with a fighting game and it was Srikanth who was at the receiving end this time. The 2014 World Championship bronze medallist led from start to finish to level the contest by claiming the second game.
In the deciding game, both shuttlers started on an aggressive note but it was Srikanth who made several costly errors. Though Sugiarto led most of the game, Srikanth tagged close behind.
But slowly, the 27-year-old local extended his lead and reached 19-15 and the match seemed beyond the Indian, whose body language did not look optimistic.
Srikanth, somehow, managed to save three points against the wishes of the crowd who were cheering every shot and move of Sugiarto. But an error from the Indian proved costly as Srikanth was looking at Sugiarto serving for the championship with two match points in hand.
Srikanth managed to save both and went into the lead twice. His opponent reciprocated by also saving Srikanth’s two match points, making the crowd go wild.
And finally, on Sugiarto’s serve Srikanth pushed the bird into the net to lose the summit clash.
Srikanth has been able to regain his old form in this tournament. Lately, he has had one of the worst runs of his international career, having exited five of his last six tournaments in the first round. The only time he did not lose the opener was when he lost the second round at the Denmark Open in October.
This was his fourth final this year after winning two (India Open Superseries and Swiss Open Grand Prix Gold) and losing one (India Grand Prix Gold). Significantly, all three performances came at the start of the year after which the 22-year-old went through a slump.