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World Badminton Championships 2018: Kidambi Srikanth needs to solve Kento Momota riddle as maiden shot at glory beckons

One man’s misfortune may well prove to be the key that unlocks the door to another man’s Valhalla. The withdrawal of Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei from the upcoming World Badminton Championships and the Asian Games, thanks to a respiratory disorder, could well be the stroke of luck that Indian spearhead Kidambi Srikanth requires, in his quest for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

One might have thought that, on the strength of his outstanding form in the first half of 2017, he would have been a prime contender for a medal of any hue at the World Championships in Glasgow in August. Seeded eighth, the Indian fared well enough in his first three outings, with comfortable victories over Russian Sergey Sirant, Frenchman Lucas Corvee and the dangerous Dane, Anders Antonsen.

Srikanth controversially chose to stay away from the prestigious Thomas Cup team competition, in which India fielded a below-strength team, and consequently, failed to make the quarter-finals. The Indian ace had been crowned World No 1 on 12 April, on a technicality, when the erstwhile numero uno, Viktor Axelsen of Denmark, was unable to defend points for a tournament that had been postponed by two months this year; he was to lose that top status a week later.

Srikanth’s cause has not been helped by a brace of indifferent performances on the recently concluded South East Asian circuit. Playing in the first of the four tournaments in the Asia-Pacific region, the Malaysia Open, Srikanth surrendered meekly by a 13-21, 13-21 margin to Japan’s resurgent Kento Momota.

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