Kidambi Srikanth, seventh seed, made a brave fight but it was not enough as the Indian fell 19-21, 21-16, 21-18 to Lee Dong Keun of South Korea in the quarterfinals of the Japan Open. Srikanth was the last Indian left in the tournament and his elimination meant that after a long time there will not be an Indian in the semi-final of a tournament, either in the draw for women or men. PV Sindhu, who won a silver medal in the recently concluded Asian Games 2018, suffered a commotion in the second round against Chinese Fangjie Gao, while Saina Nehwal did not even participate.
There were other Indians in the men's draw, but all of them had already been expelled before Friday, leaving Srikanth as the only Indian in the fray.
HS Prannoy lost to Anthony Sinisuka Ginting of Indonesia 21-14, 21-17 in the second round on Thursday, while Sameer Verma went down in the first round, losing 21-18, 20-22, 21-10 to the conqueror of Srikanth in the round opening.
With the elimination of his compatriots, Srikanth had the task of regaining some Indian pride.
Things started well for the seventh seed in the quarterfinals against the South Koreans. Srikanth won the first game, after maintaining leadership for much of that period. The Indian was 7-4 up, but Dong Keun fought to make it 10-10, Srikanth opened a narrow lead and held it until the end of the game, but South Korea refused to give up and again leveled the scores 19- 19
However, Srikanth held his nerves to win points in a row and close the game.
The second game was completely opposite with Dong Keun overtaking his opponent of higher rank. The South Korean took the lead in the first point and kept it until the end.
The third and last game was much more complicated with Srikanth enduring more than one fight. Dong Keun took the lead early, but Srikanth was always right behind. Srikanth was losing 6-9 at one point, but he won three consecutive points to tie.
The South Korean responded immediately and won his own consecutive points to once again open a three point gap at 12-9. However, Srikanth fought again and this time he did better and won four points in a row to take a 13-12 lead and it looked like that would break the spirit of South Korea. But instead, it made him even more stubborn and determined.
Srikanth led 15-13 when Dong Keun won four consecutive points to take a decisive 18-15 lead. There was no late counterattack by Srikanth when the South Korean held on to take out the remaining Indian from the Japan Open.