India's Kidambi Srikanth stands one step away from his third Super Series Premier title after he dished out a superlative display to outwit Hong Kong's Wong Wing Ki Vincent in straight games and reach the men's singles final of the US$750,000 Denmark Open, in Odense on Saturday.
The 25-year-old Indian, who clinched the Indonesia Open and Australian Open this year, besides reaching the final of the Singapore Open, defeated Wong 21-18, 21-17 at the Odense Sports Park.
A 2-2 head-to-head record in career meetings -- all of which had gone to the decider -- meant nothing as Srikanth towered over Wong, showing better control and anticipation in the 39-minute semi-final duel.
"I feel great. I really wanted to do well. Our game is similar but I was more patient and though I made some errors initially I learnt quickly. Next is Lee, whom I have not played and I think he will be a tricky player to beat," Srikanth told PTI.
Srikanth and Wong split the initial six points before the Indian moved ahead with his rival struggling with the length of his shots. He eventually had a healthy 11-6 lead after dominating a net exchange.
Wong made it 10-13 after the interval but Srikanth showed better anticipation to lead 15-10. A body smash helped Wong to make it 12-15 and then 15-18 but Srikanth didn't lose his patience and managed to control the rallies.
Srikanth went into game point when Wong's return got buried in the net. Srikanth himself made a net error before pushing the shuttle to the back of the court as an out of position Wong sent it sailing wide.
In the second game, Srikanth zoomed to a 4-0 lead but a few unforced errors at the net helped Wong to make it 3-4 in his favaour. He then unleashed a smash to claw back. The Indian again surged to 7-5 lead when Wong served out.
Srikanth showed great athleticism when he dived and then smashed to grab a point to make it 8-6. However, Wong managed to surpass the Indian and pocket a 11-9 lead at the break.
After the lemon break, Srikanth reeled off three straight points to turn the tables and lead 14-12 with Wong committing two unforced errors.
A jump cross-court smash took Srikanth to 16-15 and he then capitalised on it, extending the advantage to 18-15. A net error from Wong gave him another point but the Indian hit wide. He then pushed the shuttle to the back to grab three match points and converted it after winning a long rally.
Earlier, 37-year-old Lee Hyun Il of Korea, who plays as a professional, seemed to have turned back the clock as he conquered his younger compatriot and World No. 2 Son Wan Ho 25-23 18-21 21-17 in the other men's singles semi-final that lasted an hour and 31 minutes.
In women's singles, Thailand's Ratchanok Intanon avenged her loss to Chinese Taipei's Tai Tzu Ying with a 21-14, 20-22, 21-14 win over the World No. 1 to reach her second Super
Series Premier final this year.
She had lost to Tai Tzu at the final of All England Championship, second round of Australian Open and Dubai World Super Series Final last year.
Ratchanok will face Akane Yamaguchi, who defeated World No. 10 Chen Yufei of China 10-21, 21-18, 21-19.
Mixed doubles pair of Tang Chun Man and Tse Ying Suet of Hong Kong also reached their maiden final with a 21-16, 21-18 win over third seeded Indonesian combo of Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir.
After Viktor Axelsen's exit on Friday, Denmark’s challenge ended today after celebrated men's doubles pair of Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen lost 18-21, 21-18, 13-21 to fifth seeded Chinese pair of Liu Cheng and Zhang Nan.