India Open: Prannoy Digs In

HS Prannoy’s first India Open semifinal came as reward after a hard grind, in which the world No.9 had to be on top of his game in a challenging contest with Wang Tzu Wei.

It turned out to be a good day for India, with Satwiksairaj Rankireddy/Chirag Shetty demolishing the challenge of Kim Astrup/Anders Skaarup Rasmussen in a testy encounter.

Prannoy was down 10-5 in the third game, but he was well prepared to stick in the rallies, staying alert for Wang’s clever tactical variations. Once he caught up at 14, with the crowd chanting his name and urging him on, Prannoy rode on the momentum, taking the win at 21-11 17-21 21-18.

“It was tough at 5-10. I had to get a lot of things right at that point,” said Prannoy. “Somehow I kept my cool, trusted my defence, and after 11, I opened up the game which made it difficult for him as I was defending well.

Prannoy acknowledges the crowd.

“He knows how to score points, he can take very quick points, and you kind of lose five-six points in a blink. Definitely the crowd helped in that comeback. When it was 12-13 I knew I was in control of the game.

“I’m proud of what I could do in the third game. Things weren’t looking good at one stage, but to fight back from that point … the crowd helped big time. Really happy to be playing in the semifinal of a Super 750.

“Men’s singles is wide open and you can’t finish things off quickly. You just have to be gritty enough to win these kind of matches.”

Rankireddy/Shetty on Fire

As for Rankireddy/Shetty, they had gone in with their last result against Astrup/Rasmussen still fresh in their minds – a straight games loss in the quarterfinals of the World Championships. This time, though, what unfolded couldn’t have been more different.

The Indians exploded off the starting blocks, and from there, never let the Danes in. There was barely a rally in which Astrup and Rasmussen could find their footing, and it was all over in just 35 minutes.

“They gave us sleepless nights a few times,” said Rankireddy. “We were stressed at the World Championships, we couldn’t play our game. I was very low, I couldn’t sleep last night either. I was eager to play, put my ‘A’ game first and see what they come up with. We didn’t want to get into their tricks and follow their rhythm; I wanted to show it’s my turn.”

Shetty and Rankireddy dominated from start to finish.

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