KUALA LUMPUR: Kidambi Srikanth went down in straight games to in-form Kento Momota of Japan in the semifinals and bowed out of the USD 700,000 Malaysia Open Super World Tour 750 tournament on Saturday.
Srikanth, who had reached world No. 1 spot briefly in April, couldn’t match the overall superior game of Momota, who has been in sensational form since making a comeback after serving a one year ban for illegal gambling.
After a 42-minute battle, Srikanth lost 13-21, 13-21 to the world no 11 Momota, who registered his 21st consecutive win here.
Momota was quick on his feet and produced some excellent shots mixed with deception, to dominate the rallies. His smashes had power and precision to make life difficult for Srikanth.
Srikanth and Momota went neck and neck from 3-3 to 5-5 before the Japanese rode on his deception and better court coverage to open up a 10-7 lead. Srikanth won a good rally but the Japanese had his nose ahead at the break when Srikanth was bamboozled by a tight net shot.
The left-handed Japanese produced some superb shots from the back of the court to move to a 13-8 lead. Momota continued to accumulate points, surging to 17-12 thereafter.
Srikanth misjudged a shot at the back line to hand over game points to Momota, who sealed it with another precise net shot.
With Momota in full flow, the margin for error was miniscule and the Japanese pounced on every opportunity to lead 5-1 after the change of sides.
Srikanth built the rallies well but often erred with the length and miscued strokes as Momota moved into the breather at 11-5. The Japanese continued to rule the roost and quickly moved to seven match points when Srikanth found the net.
Another net error and it was over for the Indian.