New Delhi: Kidambi Srikanth and Parupalli Kashyap raised hopes of an Indian win after progressing to the men's singles semifinals at USD 350,000 India Open here Friday.
Srikanth finally snapped his series of quarterfinal finishes, outwitting compatriot B Sai Praneeth 21-23 21-11 21-19 in a 62 minute duel, while Kashyap entered his first semifinals of a top-tier event (World Tour Super 500 or Superseries) in almost four years, beating Chinese Taipei's Wang Tzu Wei 21-16 21-11 in another quarterfinal clash.
Srikanth had made eight quarterfinal finishes in last nine tournaments and the Indian didn't look to make the last eight after he lost the opening game narrowly and lagged 1-7 in the second.
But a gritty Srikanth saved five game points after fighting back from 16-20 down before Praneeth staved off the challenge to take the opening game.
Praneeth managed to grab a 7-1 lead to raise hopes of an upset but Srikanth came back strongly and took the match to the decider.
In the third game, both the shuttlers split the initial 14 points before Praneeth edged ahead 11-8. But a fighting Srikanth again drew parity at 13-13 and eventually managed to clinch two crucial points at 19-19 to seal a semifinal place.
"The turning point of the match was in the second game when I was 1-7 down and I fought back. From there things changed. At 19-19 in the decider it could have gone either way, but I played well in the crucial points. I am happy with my performance," Srikanth said.
On the adjacent court, Kashyap made a confident start, leading 6-3 early on but his three successive returns at the forehand corner of Wang went out, allowing his opponent to keep pace with the Indian who enjoyed a 11-8 lead at the break.
Wang made it 16-16 with Kashyap committing a few mistakes at the net but his flat jabs and punches to the back of the court helped him to pocket the opening game.
Kashyap took control of the net and retrieved everything, while Wang looked erratic with his smashes. Kashyap led 6-3 again in the second game.
Wang again clawed back at 8-8 but Kashyap managed to keep his nose ahead at 11-9 at the interval.
The Indian marched ahead, varying the pace with his strokes, using angles and measured returns, cramming his opponent for space. He lead 18-11. A smash and drop took Kashyap closer to seal the match and he celebrated once Wang went long.
"I feel good. I didn't think about semifinal. I had a good draw and a good run and I am just happy. I have fitness issues but I don't know why my body is feeling at ease," said Kashyap, who had reached the finals at 2017 US Open and won the 2018 Austrian Open.
"He (Wang) is a tricky player. He has good skills at the net. He takes risks and hits some good half smashes. I kept retrieving the shuttle and could attack and counter his strokes....