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HS Prannoy sees bright future for India in emerging star Priyanshu Rajawat

Despite Prannoy beating Priyanshu, he commended the youngster for his magnificent fighting spirit that forced Prannoy to fight for 76 minutes to secure a three-game win.

HS Prannoy Badminton

HS Prannoy in action during his match (Photo credits: BAI)


Deepanshu Jain

Updated: 20 Jan 2024 3:06 PM GMT

New Delhi: HS Prannoy is once again leading the Indian charts in men's singles after securing his spot in the quarterfinals of the India Open Super 750 at the KD Jadhav Indoor Hall in New Delhi on Thursday.

Prannoy overcame the challenge of Priyanshu Rajawat in a 76-minute long match, securing a gritty three-game (20-22, 21-14, 21-14) win. He rallied back from an opening-game deficit to clinch the victory in front of the home crowd.

This deep run into the tournament has significantly elevated the confidence of Prannoy early in the year, especially after facing a first-round exit in the Malaysia Open Super 1000 last week, where he lost to the eventual champion Anders Antonsen of Denmark.

Last year, Prannoy faced another Indian opponent, Lakshya Sen, in the first round and suffered a defeat.

The 31-year-old loathed playing fellow Indian shuttlers early in the tournament.

"It's always challenging when you have three Indian players in the same pre-quarters at a Super 750 level. It can be quite irritating, but that's how things unfold sometimes, and we have to cope with it. Similarly, you see many Chinese and Japanese players competing against each other early on," bespoke Prannoy.

The match unfolded with both players displaying steady play initially. Even though Prannoy transitioned into his aggressive gameplay, he was skillfully countered by Priyanshu, who deployed his defensive and deceptive skills to his. The first game was even at 18-18, and it went to deuce again at 20-20, and Priyanshu secured the game lead at 22-20.

Reflecting on the intense first game, Prannoy said, "The first game was very close; I had my chances at 18-16, but I missed those. Priyanshu started playing steadily towards the end, but I knew I could excel in the second and third games, needing to stretch the match for a win."

The second game saw Prannoy breaking away to a dominating 7-0 lead early. Unfortunately, Priyanshu twisted his ankle during a rally, hindering the momentum of his natural attacking game. Despite a valiant effort, he couldn't execute half-smashes or cross-court placements, leading to a tame from the youngster in the next two games.

Even as Priyanshu carried on with the injury, Prannoy emerged triumphant, winning the next two games, and forcing a Round of 16 for the Madhya Pradesh boy.

After the match, Prannoy highlighted the challenge of facing Priyanshu. "When you know there is somebody who knows your game very well, then it's all about how you execute your preparations on the court, especially in the closing moments of the game," said Prannoy.

Expressing concern over Priyanshu's injury, the world no. 9 stated, "Priyanshu twisted his ankle in the second set. It was unfortunate, but he fought till the end to finish the match somehow."

Priyanshu, acknowledging the injury, said, "I was very afraid to play after that ankle injury in the second game. I was feeling the pain when I tried to jump for a smash or placements."

Despite the setback, Priyanshu expressed hope for Prannoy's success at the India Open.

"Now, I think Prannoy can win the gold medal for India in this tournament. I like his gameplay and would want to learn from him, especially how to stay patient in tough times and appreciate his aggression on the court."

Prannoy commended Priyanshu's impressive rise, stating, "Priyanshu has been doing really well for the past one and a half years. It's remarkable to see a 21-year-old play this well, and I'm sure he will only get better in the next 4-5 years. With his talent and diverse skills, he'll undoubtedly secure some significant wins. Defending against his shots can be challenging in certain situations."

"Having the opportunity to spar with such a talented youngster is beneficial, adding more skilled players to the ecosystem, and I'm very happy for that," Prannoy concluded.

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