World Badminton Championships: Sindhu, Praneeth enter quarters; Kidambi, Prannoy lose
Before leaving Indian shores for the World Championships in Basel, Kidambi Srikanth was worried about getting his touch back. And that is what haunted him on Thursday as the world No 10 crashed out in the men’s singles third round, his dream of winning a medal at Worlds still unfulfilled.
Ever since his knee injury in May, the former world No 1 has struggled to find rhythm and that showed in Basel. After wrestling past lower-ranked opponents in the first two rounds, Srikanth fell in the pre-quarterfinals, going down 14-21, 13-21 in 40 minutes to Thai 12th seed Kantaphon Wangcharoen.
In what was his first game against the world No 15, the seventh-seeded Srikanth consistently made errors and did not appear comfortable to bow out in the Round of 16 for the fourth time in five appearances.
Sai Praneeth, Sindhu progress
PV Sindhu and B Sai Praneeth provided joy for the Indian contingent, progressing to the quarter-finals. They are now a step away from the medal rounds.
Slow at the start, the 16th seeded Sai Praneeth made an incredible fight back in the first game to blow the steam out of Indonesian sixth seed Anthony Sinisuka Ginting and clinch the contest 21-19, 21-13 in 43 minutes.
A fight between two equally talented players, the first game was a contest to see who could retrieve the smashes more. The world No 8 was not allowing Sai Praneeth to go for the kill, regularly retrieving his smashes to take a crucial 19-17 lead in the first game.
But the world No 19 Indian showed patience to pull the rabbit out of the hat, forcing Ginting to make errors to win the next four points and take the lead in the contest.
Though leading 6-2, a few errors crept into Sai Praneeth’s game, allowing the Indonesian to take an 11-8 lead at the break of the second game. With chief coach Pullela Gopichand giving instructions from the courtside, the Indian found his aggression once more to arrest the slide and take the lead.
From 8-11, Sai Praneeth dropped only two points in the next 15 and showed his aggressive self more after every point won by pumping his fist.
“The rallies were going well and he was playing fast. I was prepared for the pace. I was down in the second game, but once I covered the lead, I thought this is the best chance. I could see he was under pressure, he was making mistakes. I just kept on building the pressure,” Sai Praneeth was quoted as saying by the BWF.
“I played some good matches in Japan and Thailand, so I was confident and the draw wasn’t too tough or too easy, so I thought I have to be at 100 percent.”
Sai Praneeth, who was recently selected for the Arjuna award, next faces a tougher task against 2018 Asian Games gold medallist Jonatan Christie. The Indonesian fourth seed has a 2-1 record against Sai Praneeth.
Fifth seeded Sindhu displayed a commanding performance to enter her sixth quarter-final at the Worlds in as many outings. The four-time World Championships medallist needed just 34 minutes to beat American ninth seed Beiwen Zhang 21-14, 21-6 to extend her career advantage to 5-3.
Beiwen tried to compete with Sindhu at the start but the Indian, who was calm and joked with coach Kim Ji Hyun during the mid-game breaks, advanced to the last eight where she will face second seed Tai Tzu Ying.
Though the Chinese Taipei girl holds a 10-4 advantage over the Rio Olympics silver medallist, Sindhu can take heart from the fact that she beat Tai the last time they played at the BWF World Tour Finals in December 2018.
Prannoy bows out
Earlier, HS Prannoy, who downed five-time world champion Lin Dan of China in the previous round, lost to defending champion and world No 1 Kento Momota in the third round.
Despite fighting valiantly in the first game, which could have gone either way at 19-all, the Indian ran out of steam against the top seed in the second game to lose 19-21, 12-21 in 55 minutes.
“Things would have been different if I could have taken that first game at 19-19. Nevertheless, a decent week comes to an end here in Switzerland. Lot of positives from the three matches I played here and things are looking much better than before,” Prannoy said after his loss.
Late on Wednesday, Saina Nehwal was barely troubled by her opponent, progressing to the third round of women’s singles. The eighth-seeded Saina had an easy outing. Following a first round bye, she needed just 33 minutes to dispose Dutch world No 72 Soraya De Visch Eijbergen 21-10, 21-11 in what was the first meeting between the two.
With husband and coach Parupalli Kashyap sitting courtside, the London Olympics bronze medallist showed she meant business by winning 42 of the 63 points played in the match.