India's Kidambi Srikanth won his third Superseries title on Sunday when he defeated Japan's Kazumasa Sakai 21-11, 21-19 in straight games at Indonesia Superseries Premier.
The world number 22 was at ease against the unseeded Japanese shuttler as he raced to a 21-11 win in the first game. The Indian shuttler though was tested in the second game and he fell behind at the mid-game break, trailing Sakai 6-11. However, Srikanth quickly buckled up and made sure there was no need for a decider in the big final.
In what had been a tournament of upsets, top-ranked stars Lee Chong Wei, Lin Dan and Chen Long bowed out early. Srikanth made sure he capitalised on those results and stunned world number one Son Wan Ho in a hard-fought semi-final match 21-15, 14-21, 24-22 to reach his second consecutive Superseries final on the trot.
Srikanth revealed Sakai looked dangerous in the second game, but he had fought back to turn it around after conceding a five-point lead at the mid-game break. Notably, this was the first time the two shuttlers had met and it was the experienced campaigner, who managed to cross the final hurdle.
Sunday's win made sure Srikanth won his third Superseries title after his 2014 China Open and 2015 India Open victories. The 24-year-old, who also finished as runner-up at Singapore Open in April, credited newly-appointed Men's singles coach Mulyo Handoyo of Indonesia for his recent performances at the highest level.
Srikanth's win must be a special feeling for Handoyo, who is known for guiding Indonesia great Taufik Hidayat to Olympic gold in 2004, as the young shuttler had made his coach proud at one of the biggest tournaments in Indonesia.
"He [Handoyo] will definitely have a special place in my heart, for sure. After he came, I played the final in Singapore Superseries, after which I have won the tournament in Indonesia," Srikanth said, during an on-court interview, after the final on Sunday.
"I really feel very happy to win, it [Indonesia Open] is one of the biggest tournaments here. Thank you for all the fans."