Indian challenge ended at the Hong Kong Open World Tour Super 500 tournament after Kidambi Srikanth and Sameer Verma lost their respective men’s singles quarterfinal matches here on Friday. Fourth seed Srikanth suffered a 17-21 13-21 loss to eighth seed Kenta Nishimoto for his first loss to the Japanese in four meetings. The Indian had beaten Nishimoto thrice before this match.
Later, world no 18 Sameer also failed to tame local hope Lee Cheuk Yiu, who came through the qualifiers to seal his maiden semi-final spot with a 21-15 19-21 21-11 win in a match that last an hour and 13 minutes here.
Srikanth couldn’t threaten Nishimoto, who lead 12-7 at one stage in the opening game. The Indian did claw back and even had a slender 14-13 lead but the Japanese soon left him behind with four straight points before pocketing the opening game.
The Indian looked clueless in the second game as he struggled right from the start even as Nishimoto surged to 6-2 and then reeled off seven straight points to grab a massive 13-3 advantage, a deficit which the Indian couldn’t erase to bow out of the contest.
Later in the day, Sameer, who had reached the finals of the Hong Kong Open in 2016, couldn’t find a way to outwit an athletic Lee Cheuk Yiu, who was rewarded for his control and precision.
Sameer had beaten Lee at the New Zealand Open earlier this year but that didn’t matter as Lee opened up a 4-0 lead in the opening game and consolidated it to 12-3 at one stage. Sameer managed to claw back to 15-16 but the Hong Kong player reeled off the required five points to take the opening game. The Indian lagged again in the second game, before he managed to erase a 5-8 deficit and take a 14-11 lead.
The Indian held a four-game point advantage in the end. Lee saved three before a controversial line call helped Sameer take the match to the decider. In the third game, the duo split the initial 10 points before Lee eked out a five-point advantage, reaching 11-6 at the break.
After changing the sides, Sameer couldn’t break the run of points, going wide and long. The local qualifier looked more aggressive and seized the opportunities to continue his domination. Lee eventually sealed his place in the semifinals when Sameer’s return hit the net.