The 28-year-old shuttler has made a name for himself to become the top Indian male badminton player.
Kidambi Srikanth has finally emerged from the shadows of his female colleagues – Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu. Following their Olympic exploits, Indian badminton was largely associated with the two female superstars. They became the torchbearers for the sport in India as the male stars were slowly being forgotten. Srikanth brought the spotlight back to the male’s game with a string of positive results. His multiple Super Series titles in a single year to becoming the World No.1, Kidambi is undoubtedly the top male shuttler in the country.
Born in Andhra Pradesh, Srikanth, from his early days, had all the ingredients to become a world class player. It was in the 2011 Commonwealth Youth Games, he announced his arrival with medals in the doubles category. However, it was in 2013, he won his first senior national title, stunning the reigning champion Parupalli Kashyap in the All India Senior National Championships.
The Pullela Gopichand academy product came to national prominence with this shocking victory in Delhi. However, in global stage his first major moment was in 2014 when a young Srikanth defied odds to win the China Open Super Series Premier. He defeated his idol and the two times Olympic Champion Lin Dan in straight sets to become the maiden Indian to win a Super Series Premier men’s title.
An attacking minded player, Srikanth’s aggressive approach includes his jump smashes. He hardly gives time for the opponent to settle in. This approach started to have a side-effect on Kidambi as he was quick to kill the game. With time, he has improved to play his opponent around by creating angles. He also worked hard on the patient side of his game, making him the complete player.
It was in 2017 when he finally found his feet at the global stage. First was the Indonesia Super Series title where he defeated Japan’s Kazumasa Sakai. He next won the Australian Super Series, stunning the current Olympic Gold-medallist China’s Chen Long in the final.
Even though Srikanth was not able to go beyond the quarterfinals at the World Championships, he made up for it by winning the Super Series in Denmark, beating Lee Hyun-il of Korea in the final. It was with the French Super Series title, he became only the fourth player ever to win four Super Series trophies in a calendar year.
A year later, Srikanth reached the summit. In 2018, then 25-year old Srikanth overtook Viktor Axelsen to become the World No. 1 player for a short period. It only cemented his place as the country’s top male shuttler.
He still has a long way to go in order to reach the heights Saina and Sindhu did. But the path Srikanth has taken till now is the right one. If he can maintain this momentum, then Kidambi has all the necessary skills to dominate the badminton world.