HS Prannoy is known to be a giant killer and he added one more name to his ever-growing list today, defeating the reigning Olympic champion Viktor Axelsen 14-21, 21-19, 21-16 to enter the quarterfinals of the ongoing Indonesia Masters 2021.
Going into their pre-quarterfinal clash, Viktor Axelsen was the hot favourite to advance to the next round. He had beaten Prannoy on each of the five occasions the duo had faced off before this. Moreover, the Danish superstar was undefeated in a full match since the All England Open 2021 final in March earlier this year.
The Indian, to put it mildly, was having a terrible year. He had fallen to number 32 in the BWF World Rankings. Axelsen, on the other hand, has been in the form of his life, even clinching the 2020 Tokyo Olympics title. No one in their wildest of imagination expected HS Prannoy to win this.
In fact, even the match started on an expected note. The World number 2 made quick work of Prannoy to bag the first game 21-14. There was little interest in the match with Axelsen leading 11-8 in the second game, but what followed was a Prannoy special.
The Indian pressed on the accelerator all of sudden and equalised at 15-15. He then led for a brief moment before the Olympic champion levelled things up at 19 all. With the pressure firmly on him, Prannoy responded tremendously well to bag the second game 21-19 and force the match into a decider.
He lost the second game, but Viktor Axelsen should win this easily, one thought.
The Danish shuttler came out with vengeance in the decider, taking an 11-8 lead. This should have been decisive on any other day, but today was Prannoy's day and he was not going to let it go.
The 29-year-old kept hitting back relentlessly. He did not let his intensity drop and forced Axelsen to make mistakes. The scoreboard went from 8-11 to 14-14 to 18-15 lead for the Indian.
A three-point lead in the decider, but the only question in mind was will Prannoy cause an upset? After all, he was up against arguably the best player in the world.
Not only did he manage to close out the match in 1 hour 11 minutes, but he also handed Axelsen his first full match defeat in almost eight months. The last time Viktor Axelsen lost, the scoreline read 29-30, 22-20, 9-21 in the All England Open 2021 final against Malaysia's Lee Zii Jia.