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India Open 2024: Prannoy lights up crowd with fighting victory

Screenshot 2024 01 20 091813NEW DELHI: Every time HS Prannoy wields the racquet, he generates a good dose of excitement. That has been the narrative for the last two years or so. And he was at it again on Friday evening here at the KD Jadhav Indoor Hall.

Playing his men’s singles quarterfinal match against Wang Tzu Wei of Chinese Taipei in the ongoing India Open, Prannoy made the crowd come to life with some eye-catching shots and an eventual win (21-11, 17-21, 21-18) that put him within two matches closer to the BWF Super 750 title.

The World No 9 shuttler played with plenty of authority in the opening game and bossed the opening game.

With the crowd egging him on, the 31-year-old from Kerala was operating with plenty of verve and managing to find gaps in his rival’s half. His down the line smash was coming off well during that phase of play. Wang, on the other hand, seemed to lack ideas. However, once the second game resumed, Wang came in with a different energy. After a close start, the World No 28 opened up a handy lead before going on to take the match to the third game.

The momentum was on the visiting shuttler’s side and that was evident at the start of the third essay. In no time, he opened up a healthy lead. That’s when Prannoy’s fighting spirit, something that has helped him over the years, came to the fore. After landing a couple of cross-court winners, the game was suddenly a close affair. Every point was being cheered as Prannoy himself celebrated animatedly.

With the match in the balance at 17-16 in Prannoy’s favour, the Indian pulled off a delicate drop shot to nudge further ahead. Despite losing the following point, Prannoy retained his calm to finish off the match. He didn’t hold back during celebrations. With both his arms in the air, he signalled his victory to the crowd, who were behind him throughout the tough moments. It was certainly a well-earned win and Prannoy was pleased with his effort.

“I think it is always tough to play against somebody like Wang Tzu Wei, who is exceptionally good along the net and attacks. But I think it was important for me to get that first game because he is somebody who gets going right from the start. That is why it was a little bit more of a different start today, and it definitely helped,” Prannoy said after the hard-fought match.

“The second game didn’t go really well but I am really proud of what I could do in the third set to fight back from that point where things weren’t looking good.”

Prannoy will face Shi Yu Qi of China (World No 2) up next. His ability to find answers in crunch moments puts him in a good spot ahead of that challenging tie.

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