There is no stopping red-hot Kidambi Srikanth
A resolute Kidambi Srikanth clinched his fourth Super Series title with an incredible straight-game triumph over reigning Olympic and world champion Chen Long in the Australian Open final here on Sunday.
The world no.11 Srikanth won 22-20 21-16 in a 45-minute clash against the world no.6 Chinese, who is also a two-time All England champion.
The triumph is his second successive after clinching the Indonesia Open Super Series Premier title last week.
"As a whole, I played very well, but since I arrived in Sydney I have gastroenteritis and have had diarrhoea, so I have not been at my best physical condition. But since I made the final I wanted to continue to play as well as I could," an ecstatic Srikanth said after the victory.
"It's just that I'm not thinking of winning or losing. I missed competitive badminton and wanted to enjoy the match.
It's like it happened because I missed that period of competitive badminton. It's like I wanted to hang in and play as many matches as possible," he added.
Entering the summit showdown, Srikanth was only the fifth player in the world to contest three successive Super Series finals (Singapore and Indonesia prior to this).
The Indian, a semi-finalist in the last edition of the tournament, was the one to grab the early lead. Following a sedate start, Srikanth capitalised on his opponent's rather sluggish game to clinch a 10-6 lead.
"I'm playing better after the Sudirman Cup. I should thank my physio for keeping me fit for these two tournaments.
It was tough for me on Tuesday and Wednesday," he said.
And it was this tenacity which got Srikanth a 17-15 lead even though Long continued to breathe down his neck.
But Srikanth did not let the momentum slip and helped by Long's erratic play, the underdog earned his first game point at 20-19.
Long managed to save that with a rasping smash but Srikanth's perseverance fetched him another at 21-20 when the Chinese was foxed by a low backhand return. This time, Srikanth made no mistake and sealed the first game in 23 minutes.
He kept up the pressure in the second game-clinching it comfortably in the end.