Srikanth not shying away from meeting – and beating Chong Wei

(BRIEF CAPTION) India's men single player K.Srikanth in action during the third round of the Malaysia Master badminton tournament at SPICE Arena in Penang .Star pic by: ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star / 21 January 2016.

GEORGE TOWN: It has been a good run for Indian shuttler K. Srikanth so far.

And the 22-year-old plans to keep it that way for the rest of the season.

Playing in his first tournament of the year at the Malaysian Masters at the SPICE Arena in Relau, Srikanth did not drop a game as he strolled into the men’s singles quarter-finals.

Srikanth whipped Malaysian Chong Wei Feng 21-17, 21-11 in the opening round on Wednesday. On Thursday, the second seed was again in clinical form as he strolled to a 21-17, 21-10 win over Thai veteran Boonsak Ponsana 21-17, 21-10 in just 33 minutes.

Srikanth next faces youngster Huang Yuxiang of China for a place in the semi-finals.

The world No. 9 is tipped to meet top seed Lee Chong Wei in Sunday’s final. And meeting the former world No. 1 holds no fears for Srikanth, having beaten Malaysian No. 1 at the Indian Premier League (IPL) in Mumbai on Jan 3.

Representing Bengaluru Top Guns, Srikanth beat Chong Wei of Hyderabad Hunters 15-12, 6-15, 15-7.

Srikanth said the win over Chong Wei was the boost he needed after a miserable time last season.

“I was doing quite okay at the start of 2015, but things went wrong in the second half of the year. But the hardship has helped me. Now I know what to do and what not to do. I am more focused on what I do now,” said the 1.76m tall Srikanth.

“Beating Chong Wei in my first match (during the IPL) is good to start the year. It was played under a different format (15x3), but still beating a good player like him is a big boost to my confidence.

“ I hope to meet him again. Playing in Malaysia against the country’s favourite player will be tough. But right now my focus is on the quarter-final match.”

Like all shuttlers, Srikanth’s biggest goal this season is the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in August. And he hopes to be among the medallists.

“Chong Wei and China’s Lin Dan and Chen Long are the medal contenders. But I believe a few of us like Jan O Jorgesen and Viktor Axelsen of Denmark, Japan’s Kento Momota and Taiwanese Chen Tien-chou are snapping at their heels,” said Srikanth, who won the Indian and Swiss Opens last season.

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