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The Axe-factor: Viktor too good for Srikanth

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: Shuttler Viktor Axelsen has been a riddle for a fair amount of time now. Slow court, fast court, Asian style, European style, it doesn’t really matter to the reigning Olympic champion from Denmark. The result always seems to be inevitable with a win in Axelsen’s favour.

With his calm approach and astute defence, he seems to be unfazed even when the tide is against him. Kidambi Srikanth will attest to that. Despite the crowd advantage, Srikanth became the latest victim of the World No 1, who has made winning look like child’s play.

After controlling the first game in the opening round of the ongoing India Open Super 750 event on Wednesday, Axelsen was in unfamiliar territory. Down 5-14 in the second game, Srikanth was thriving, playing with new-found confidence, managing to land smashes and forcing his rival to err.

Axelsen, though, didn’t seem to be perturbed. He has entered the event with a reputation and he’s in no hurry to relinquish that any time soon. After snatching seven straight points, the equation was a lot closer at 12-14. He then masterfully went on to seal the game and the match.

Srikanth could only take the defeat helplessly while the atmosphere in the crowd told its own story. They stood still in silence as Axelsen did a fist pump. This was incidentally the Indian’s seventh straight defeat against the two-time world champion.

The fight on display is one of the qualities that has made Axelsen a real force over the years. His undiminishing hunger and will to dominate the sport saw him pocket as many as eight titles in 2022.

“It was brilliant the manner in which Srikanth came back in the second match. I’m lucky to be able to finish the match in two games. It is not easy to come from a hot and humid country (Malaysia) to a cold New Delhi, so I’m trying to adapt in the best way possible. Physically, I have not recovered from last week (Malaysia Open) plus a five-hour flight… but I do have a few hours tomorrow (Thursday) as well before I step on the court,” Axelsen said.

Results (India)

Men’s singles:
Viktor Axelsen bt Kidambi Srikanth 21-14, 21-19

Women’s singles:

Aakarshi Kashyap lost to Beiwen Zhang 15-21, 12-21

Malvika Bansod lost to Busanan Ongbamrungphan 17-21, 12-21

Women’s doubles:

Tan Pearly/Thinaah Muralitharan bt Ashwini K Bhat/Shikha Gautam 21-8, 21-11

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