Fresh from winning back to back titles – the Swiss Open and the India Open – India’s K. Srikanth won a three-set thriller against England’s Rajiv Ouseph – in his first round match in the Maybank Malaysia Open at the Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil on Wednesday.
Although the fourth seeded Indian was smiling after his win, he was quick to point out that he “does not want to win matches” in such manner – to lose a set and then trail before clinching a 21-10, 15-21, 24-22 win in 56 minutes to earn a second round match against China’s Tian Houwei.
Houwei had thrashed Malaysia’s independent player Zulfadli Zulkifli 21-5, 21-7 in 33 minutes.
“It is not often you win matches after trailing in the decider. I would not want to go through such matches,” said Srikanth, whose steady rise in the world rankings to No 4 has caught the eye of many.
Srikanth is also the first Indian to win the China Open Superseries last year.
“Of course I have come here to win the title. It was good to start with a win and I will be in better shape and frame of mind to face my next opponent.”
With Zulfadli’s whitewash, Malaysia’s interest in the men’s singles came to a close. The former Asian and world junior champion simply had no answer to the demoralising defeat although his coach Zulkifli Sidek, who is also his father – a former coach of the US Olympic team – said making the main draw itself was an achievement.
“Our target is to qualify for the Olympics which means Zulfadli will have to break into the top 20 or 30. The only way to garner enough points to move up the rankings (from the present world No 48) is to compete in tournaments and the main draw. After this we will head to Singapore and then New Zealand,” said Zulkifli.
In another first round match, Indonesia’s Dionysisu Hayom Rumbaka, who made the main draw through the qualifying rounds stopped Vietnam’s veteran Nguyen Tien Minh with a come from behind 18-21, 21-11, 21-14 win.