K. Srikanth played close to his best in defeating Jan O Jorgensen of Denmark 21-19, 21-19 in the men’s badminton pre-quarterfinals at the Riocentro Pavilion on Monday.
The victory earned the Indian a quarterfinal spot against the five-time World Champion Lin Dan of China, who won gold in the Beijing and London Olympics.
“It is good to play Lin Dan in the quarterfinals of the Olympics. I am really hoping to win the match,” said the 23-year-old Srikanth.
Srikanth did beat Dan once, but was quick to point out that it was nearly two years ago and that he would not like to live in the past but stay in the present.
“You have to stop thinking about old memories and start thinking about the present,” said Srikanth, with a smile.
Though it was a close match, it was a solid performance by Srikanth. He attacked relentlessly right through and was happy that he did not let his opponent — who loves to stay longer on court — a big lead at any stage, except for six points in the second game.
Srikanth was patient in building the points before he went for the kill. He showed perseverance to not let his opponent move out of his reach at any stage of the match.
Srikanth led 8-4 in the second game, but the Dane took it to10-8 in his favour, before Srikanth bounced back from a string of errors, pouncing on every opportunity to finish the rallies.
“If you are competing at this level, you have to be prepared to take your chances,” said Srikanth, who is coached by P. Gopi Chand in Hyderabad.
“I am happy to have handled the big points better. That is the key to matches like this. I have been playing well for nearly a year, even if I have not been winning.
“All that has helped in handling such close matches,” said Srikanth.
His determination was evident in the manner Srikanth punched the air in celebration on winning the match and after taking the initiative in the first game.
Even though he made a string of judgement errors, the Indian said that it was important to play safe and not giving away any easy points.
“If you give away easy points, they can change the game at times,” he said.
Srikanth was also happy to have beaten the Dane, who had won two of their last three matches.
After the pre-quarterfinals in the last two World Championships and the Asian Games, Srikanth has taken a good step forward, and it remains to be seen how well he tackles the ‘rock-star’ of world badminton, Lin Dan, on Wednesday.