India’s Kidambi Srikanth defeated England’s Toby Penty in straight games in his opening round match at the Denmark Open, reported PTI. The tournament marked the resumption of international badminton after seven months.
The former world number one, who had claimed four super series titles in 2017, beat Toby 21-12 21-18 in 37 minutes, as the sport finally got going after the long coronavirus-forced hiatus.
In the next round, the fifth seed will face either fellow Indian Subhankar Dey or Canada’s Jason Anthony Ho-Shue.
Lakshya Sen has already reached the second round with a straight game win over Christo Popov on Tuesday. He will face Hans-Kristian Solberg Vittinghus of Denmark in his next round.
The 19-year-old Indian, who claimed five titles including two Super 100 tournaments last year, produced a clinical performance to outwit Popov 21-9 21-15 to reach the second round.
Denmark Open Super 750 is the only event happening this year as the BWF was forced to cancel multiple tournaments and postpone the Asia leg and the World Tour Final to next year.
Srikanth said it will take some time for him to find his best, given the circumstances.
“The last time I played was at the All England where I lost in the first round, so I’ve not had much of match practice. But I think I’m slowly getting back,” said the world no 14 Indian.
“It will definitely take some time, as there are no tournaments after this one. There will be a pause in the season, so it might take time to get used to match feeling.” Srikanth spent the early part of the lockdown at his home town, where he was unable to train at his normal level. It was an opportunity for him to reflect on life outside badminton.
“I was trying to enjoy whatever came my way. You couldn’t go out, do anything, so you had to stay at home. People started to like what they have. That’s something very important.
“After the All England I went back to my home town (Guntur), and was there for four months. I returned to Hyderabad in the first week of August, so I trained for that month thinking of the Thomas Cup,” he said.
“I wasn’t able to train at top intensity at all. At my place, there aren’t many facilities, so I couldn’t train at the highest level. But when I came back to Hyderabad I had to take time to get back to my past intensity.” He enjoyed a stupendous season in 2017 when he won back-to-back Super Series in Indonesia and Australia, and then in Denmark and France, helping him rise to the world no 1 status. But injuries took a toll and his form has since dwindled.
“It’s a good draw, and I’m playing after a long time,” he said of the ongoing event.
“I just want to try and play as many matches as possible. I came here thinking this is an opportunity to understand where I am.
“… So probably when the tournament season starts in January, I can really analyse this tournament and train accordingly so I will be at a much better level.”