Srikanth confident ahead of maiden final in Thailand

Bangkok: Indian shuttler K Srikanth is one step away from clinching his maiden title when he plays in the final of the Thailand Grand Prix Gold but the Andra Pradesh lad is in no mood to count his chickens before they hatch.

The 20-year-old from Guntur today notched up a tricky 21-14 21-18 victory over local favourite Thammasin Sitthikom to set up a summit clash with world number seven Boonsak Ponsana tomorrow.

A number of Indian shuttlers -- P Kashyap, H S Prannoy and RMV Gurusaidutt -- have had success against the 31-year-old Ponsana in the recent past and Srikanth says he is taking confidence from their exploits ahead of his final.

"He is a very good player but beatable. The fact that my fellow mates have beaten him recently actually gives me a lot of confidence," Srikanth said.

Ponsana was beaten by Prannoy in Swiss Open in March. He was also defeated by Kashyap in last year`s India Open. While in the 2011 edition, Gurusaidutt had defeated him in the opening round at New Delhi.

"Ponsana will star as favourite. The home crowd will root for him but I am not thinking too much now. I am relaxing. I will stick to my plans and what my coach tells me," added the World no. 61, who was being advised from the fence by former player and current coach Madhumita Bisht.

Asked if he would play the Indonesian Super Series and Singapore Open, Srikanth said he would not be able to make it to Indonesia, where former World and Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat will play his last tournament.

"Unfortunately there are no night flights for Indonesia tomorrow and I will have to play the qualifiers there so, I will miss out. But I will play Singapore Open," he said.

Srikanth, seeded 13th, took 43 minutes to overcome Thammasin Sitthikom at the Nimitbutr National Stadium today. In the first game, Srikanth opened up a slender 6-2 lead but Sitthikom soon caught up with the Indian to make it 6-7.

He then registered eight consecutive points to surge ahead 15-6. He kept on widening the gap to make it 20-7. But just a point away from sealing off the opening game, the Thai bagged seven points on the trot to reduce the gap to 14-20. However, in the end, Srikanth pocketed the game comfortably.

Sitthikom came back strongly in the second game and turned the heat on Srikanth. Despite the Indian getting off to a good start with a 5-1 lead, the local shuttler fought his way back, and the two were tied at 7-7.

Thereafter, it was a neck-and-neck contest till 17-17 before Srikanth managed to win three straight points to move ahead 20-17.

Sitthikom could win another point before the Indian shut the door on the Thai.

"I got relaxed a bit then. The drift started bothering me but I pulled it off in time. It was the second game which was more difficult but I am happy I could win in the end," he said.

Srikanth reached the quarter-finals of the Asian Junior Championships and entered the prequarterfinals of the World Junior Championships in 2011.