Srikanth, Ponappa-Sikki Reddy suffers defeat in BWF World Tour Finals

Kidambi Srikanth of India lost in straight games to Kunlavut Vitidsarn of Thailand in his second Group B encounter on Thursday, jeopardising his prospects of progressing to the knockout stage.

Kidambi Srikanth of India lost in straight games to Thailand’s Kunlavut Vitidsarn in his second Group B match here on Thursday, jeopardising his prospects of making it to the knockout stage of the BWF World Tour Finals.

In a 46-minute men’s singles match, world number 14 Srikanth lost 18-21, 7-21 to three-time junior world champion Vitidsarn, who had reached the knockout stage in the 2014 edition of the year-ending event.

Earlier in the day, Ashwini Ponnappa and N. Sikki Reddy lost their second consecutive match in the event, losing 19-21, 20-22 to Bulgaria’s Gabriela Stoeva and Stefani Stoeva to exit the competition.

In their last Group B encounter, the Indian combination will face England’s Chloe Birch and Lauren Smith.

Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, the top men’s doubles combo, gave top ranked Indonesian duo Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo a walkover after the former complained of knee pain. The duo has decided not to participate in the event any longer.

Srikanth had previously lost to Vitidsarn at the Sudirman Cup in September and the Asia Team Championships the previous year.

In Group B, Malaysian second seed Lee Zii Jia leads with two points, while Srikanth and Vitidsarn are tied for second with one point apiece after one win and one loss.

In his third encounter, Srikanth will face Lee Zii Jia, while Vitidsarn will face France’s Toma Junior Popov.

The winner will finish in the top two and advance to the knockout stage, and if both teams win their individual matches, the winner will be determined by the number of games won and lost.

Vitidsarn, the world number 23 on the rise, was rewarded for his flawless defence by preventing Srikanth from mounting his attack. Srikanth was never short on devotion, but his younger adversary was far superior on the day.

Vitidsarn took a 5-2 lead after the first quarter and led 11-6 at halftime. Srikanth cut the lead to 13-15 with a six-point burst, but the Thai surged ahead to 19-14 and promptly took the first game.

In the second game, Srikanth simply couldn’t equal his opponent, and the rallies where he appeared to be troubling him finished with him making unforced errors.

Due to low sight, play was halted with Srikanth trailing 6-13, but it didn’t matter because Vitidsarn went on to win the match by scoring the next 8 points.

Lakshya Sen, the youngest Indian to qualify for the year-ending event, advanced to the semifinals on Wednesday after his opponent Kento Momota withdrew due to a back injury and Denmark’s Rasmus Gemke, who is also in Group A, had to forfeit his match against compatriot Viktor Axelsen due to a knee injury.

Lakshya and Axelsen are set to qualify from the group after both Momota and Gemke withdrew.

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