Playing in his first match since March, India’s Kidambi Srikanth made a winning return to the badminton court as he beat English shuttler Toby Penty 21-12, 21-18 in the first round of the Denmark Open 2020 at Odense.
Through to the second round, Srikanth will next play Canada’s Jason Anthony Ho-Shue, who won his first-round match against Subhankar Dey.
Srikanth, a former world No. 1, is the fifth-seeded singles player at the BWF Super 750 tournament, making him the top draw among Indian badminton players participating at the event. The 27-year-old has also won the Denmark Open title in 2017.
“I’m playing after a long time. This situation is something new. I’ve never been away for this long. I’m happy with the way it went. I just want to try and play as many matches as possible,” Srikanth said after his win.
“I came here thinking this is an opportunity to understand where I am in terms of level,” he added.
Srikanth was in good form. He dominated the early exchanges, keeping his English opponent guessing with his well-placed smashes and cheeky drop shots at the net. Heading into the mid-game interval of the first game, world No. 14 Srikanth seemed firmly in control with the score 11-2 in his favour.
After the restart, the Englishman took the initiative and at one point reduced the deficit to 16-11. Srikanth, however, rallied right back, taking the next five points against his opponent's one to wrap up the first game 21-12.
In the second game, Penty upped the speed of play, which seemed to catch Srikanth off guard. The Englishman led 11-7 at the second game’s interval.
The break, though, favoured the Indian as Srikanth fought back to level up the game at 13-13 and pressed forward with his momentum to edge out Penty 21-18, ending the match with a signature cross-court smash.
This was only the second time the two had faced off on the BWF stage, with Srikanth coming out on top in their first meeting in the Thailand Open in 2013 as well.