Hong Kong, Nov 12 (IANS) Kidambi Srikanth has avoided a possible first round clash at the Hong Kong Open against Japanese world no.1 Kento Momota with the latter pulling out of the tournament. Srikanth has thus got a first round bye and will either face France’s Brice Leverdez or compatriot Sourabh Verma.
Momota had last week won the China Open, beating Chinese Taipei’s Chou Tien Chien in an epic final that lasted nearly one and a half hours. The final score stood 21-15, 17-21, 21-18 in his favour. This was his 10th title of the year and he is one of the favourites to win gold at the Olympics next year which will be held in his country.
The 25-year-old has won 12 out of the 15 clashes that he has had with Srikanth in his career. Momota had earlier faced B Sai Praneeth in the semi-final of the BWF World Championships in August on his way to the gold medal.
Srikanth will be looking for a turnaround in the tournament as his struggle to emulate his form in 2017 continues. He recently fell out of the top 10 of the BWF rankings and slid to 13th in the most recent update of the rankings.