Kidambi Srikanth went down fighting against defending champion Lin Dan to put an end to India's hopes of a medal from Olympic badminton men's singles.
Taking the court a day after compatriot P V Sindhu had knocked out another top Chinese shuttler Wang Yihan to enter the women's singles semis, Srikanth gave Super Dan a tough time before going down 6-21 21-11 18-21 against the World No. 3 Chinese and made his exit from the competition.
The 21-year-old Hyderabad shuttler's elimination after his loss to Dan in an hour and four minutes in the quarterfinals to left Sindhu as the lone Indian out out of seven entrants in the fray in badminton.
Sindhu is to take on Japan's Nozomi Okuhara tomorrow for a place in the final.
A victory would guarantee her at least a silver and a loss would propel her into the bronze medal play-off with the loser of the other semi final between Li Xuerei of China, the defending champion, and Spain's Carolina Marin, world no.1.
.@srikidambi Hats off champion. Many peaks lie ahead. It will be.— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) August 17, 2016
The focus, after Sindhu's entry into the semi finals late last night, was on Srikanth against five-time world champion Dan whom he had beaten two years ago in the China Open final.
A former World No. 3, Srikanth seemed nervous early on and was totally outclassed in the lop-sided opening game which lasted just 16 minutes,
There was a visible change in Srikanth's demeanour in the second game as he raced to a 6-3 lead. His strokes got better as he caught the celebrated Chinese off guard a few times with his angled returns and held a six-point advantage at the interval that proved decisive when he captured the game to force the match into the decider.
In the decider, six-time All England champion Lin Dan opened up a slender 2-0 lead but Srikanth managed to narrow it down to 3-4 before a superb rally ended with the Chinese stamping his authority to lead 5-3.
Srikanth continued to stretch his more celebrated rival, who has won the All-England crown on six occasions, till the end the superior experience of Dan saw him sail through to the semis against top seed Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia, who defeated Chou Tien Chen of Chinese Taipei 21-9 21-15 in another quarter final.