Kidambi Srikanth announced his arrival on the world stage beating Lin Dan at the China Open in 2014. He will run into a mini-Lin Dan in his Round 2 at the Huelva World Championships, as Chinesei Li Shifeng, the reigning Youth Olympics gold medallist, has broken through into the senior ranks in a way only the Chinese can: scalping big names and hitting the ground running.
A 21-12, 21-16 win over Pablo Abian in his opener puts Srikanth in the pathway of the restless Chinese, out to stomp their authority in the absence of seniors Chen Long and Shi Yuqi, suspended by the Chinese badminton federation, for showing defiance.
Li’s pedigree is not entirely surprising given that Chinese shuttlers always enter the international stage with a certain level of proficiency in shredding reputations. If they are allowed to compete outside, it means they are ready. And Srikanth will run into a 21-year-old who grew up – literally – coursing the Lin Dan game through his veins.