Indians might still be putting together the jigsaw of getting the fastest tearaway in cricket, but in the meantime, badminton is offering the country some pure, unbridled rush of blood. On Sunday, Kidambi Srikanth beat Japan’s Kenta Nishimoto 21-14, 21-13 in Paris to win the French Open Super Series crown, his fourth Super Series title of the year, further cementing his status as badminton’s King of Pace.
“In conditions like where he has won, on fast courts, Srikanth is clearly the best player in the world right now,” coach Pullela Gopichand declared.
Srikanth is now only the fourth men’s singles player to win four or more Super Series titles in a calendar year. The 24-year-old’s 2017 titles include two back-to-back wins (that’s 20 matches; 10 unbeaten each time).
But it’s his utter dominance in fast courts, playing at an intimidating speed, that has been the feature of his tremendous run this year. There’s no top player Srikanth hasn’t sent packing in the course of the last six months, all on fast courts.
He has twice beaten previous World No. 1 Son Wan Ho, effected a stunning turnaround against current World No. 1 and world champion Viktor Axelsen at his home meet in Denmark, and dominated Lee Chong Wei and Chen Long — Olympic silver and gold medallists — in Australia.
Against Nishimoto, there was the definitive down-the-line smash, where Srikanth clocks 380 kmph routinely. Nishimoto is no slow coach himself, but Srikanth grabbed the initiative on Sunday and whistled forward like a bullet train against the Japanese, denying his opponent any chance of constructing his attack.
“I’m just happy with the way it has gone for me in the last couple of weeks. There were some close matches and I feel I was a bit lucky in those matches. But I’m very happy with the way it went, the way I was playing,” he told the Paris media. “I think in the semis and quarters I felt that I started slow. So I wanted to start off a bit better. He (Nishimoto) is an aggressive attacking player so I didn’t want to give him that chance,” he said.
Quizzed on his superior fitness, Srikanth laughed, “I’m surprised about it too. The way we’ve been training in the last 9-10 months, it’s been doing its part. I just need to continue training hard.”


Srikanth Kidambi of India celebrates after beating Kazumasa Sakai of Japan to win the men’s singles title of the Indonesia Open badminton tournament in Jakarta on June 18, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / GOH Chai Hin


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