Prannoy ends Asian Games campaign with historic bronze after 41 years
Prannoy became only the second Indian men's singles player to win an Asian Games bronze after Syed Modi, who won the medal at the 1982 Asiad.
HS Prannoy became only the second Indian men's singles player to win a bronze medal at the Asian Games on Friday.
Prannoy, however, could not better the colour of Syed Modi's bronze win in the 1982 Delhi Asian Games as he lost in the semifinal in Hangzhou.
His quarterfinal win over Lee Zii Jia helped him end India's 41-year wait for a men's singles medal at the Asian Games 2023 on Thursday. But a sapping three-game victory over Zii Jia meant Prannoy was worn out before the big semifinal clash against Li Shi Feng.
On Friday, when Prannoy took the court 1 of the BJ Gymnasium for his semifinal clash against Shi Feng, expectation was mounting on him. Prannoy, ranked seventh in the world, had a 3-0 record against world no. 8 Shi Feng entering the match.
But Shi Feng absorbed the chants of a partisan crowd and befuddled Prannoy with his explosive footwork.
When the match began, Prannoy started in an aggressive fashion, deceiving Shi Feng, as he did in their last three meetings, with angled drop shots.
His soft forehand would give him an 11-10 lead at the interval. Prannoy would soon break away to a 12-10 lead, winning the net battle with a brilliant backhand flick.
But Prannoy's spree was cut short by Shi Feng. That he moved slowly and restrained himself from hitting his signature over-the-head jump smashes did not miss the astute eyes of Shi Feng's young coach Chen Long, overseeing the game from the corner.
The Chinese shuttler would soon ramp up his game. Even though Prannoy brought a winner with a superb net kill to draw level at 14-14, he would soon run out of gas as Shi Feng beat him in the speed game, frequently drawing him closer to the net and outfoxing him with killing pushes.
At 20-16, with the Chinese player on game point, Shi Feng and Prannoy exchanged the shuttle quickly before Shi Feng drew the Indian closer to the net and fetched the winner with a whipping net shot.
In the second game, Prannoy trailed 6-11 at the interval. He could win only three points after that as Shi Feng broke away to a 19-9 lead. The Chinese youngster frequently drew Prannoy to the net and beat him with rapid pushes. Shi Feng would win the game 21-9 and the match in straight games.
However, Prannoy, who played the tournament with a back injury, will return home with a historic bronze medal.
After the match, the Indian shuttler said he was happy to achieve the feat.
"Credit to Li (Shifeng). He played a really solid game out there. I had more chances in the 1st game but it drifted away from me after 14-14," Prannoy was quoted as saying by China's state broadcaster CGTN.
"At my current fitness level, I'm happy enough to play the semifinal on such a big stage," added Prannoy.