Rio Olympics: Shuttler Srikanth wins first group match

Rio de Janeiro: Indian shuttler Kidambri Srikanth started his Olympic campaign in superb fashion, breezing past Lino Muzon of Mexico in straight games in the opening match of Group H in the men’s singles event here.

The only Indian to qualify in the men’s singles event, Srikanth won 21-11, 21-17 in 41 minutes here at the Pavilion 4 of Rio Centro on Thursday.

Srikanth will be playing his next match against Henri Hurskainen of Sweden on Sunday.

In few early exchanges in the first game, the Indian shuttler was prevailing 7-5 due to few unforced errors from the Mexican before Kidamdi stepped up his game, attacking strongly to take 10 points on the trot to build up a 15-10 lead.

With the combination of his diagonal and down the line smashes creating plenty of problems for the Mexican, Srikanth easily clinched the first game by a 21-11 margin in 16 minutes.

In the second game, the former world No. 3 Indian started to loosen up a little, going up 11-9 at the mid-game interval.

After the mid-game interval, Muzon tried to stage a strong comeback. He effectively countered Srikanth’s smashes and started dominating the court with his long smashes, building up a 16-13 lead.

At one point it seemed that it will be difficult for the 23-year-old Guntur lad to return into the game, but Srikanth kept his cool and played few tight spinning net shots to grab the nail biting second game in 25 minutes.