Sai Praneeth's defeat on Saturday at the Tokyo Olympics came as a shocker for all the Indian Badminton fans as World No. 47 Misha Zilberman of Israel pulled off an upset with a score of 21-17, 21-15. The experienced shuttler from India was expected to at least move past the group stage as his opponents were adjudged to be easy wins for him.
But as destiny would have it, Praneeth's 15th world ranking and the fact that he had a 3-0 head-to-head record did not help him to beat the Israeli shuttler.
Though, as per calculations and with some optimistic view, there was a chance that the veteran player could make it through the group stage, which came crashing down today.
Why does the men's single's only hope in badminton for India has to let go of his Olympic dream due to a sloppy performance?
B. Sai Praneeth is in Group D of the men's singles tournament alongside Misha Zilberman of Israel and Mark Caljouw of the Netherlands. Only one of the three shuttlers could make it past the group stage. Praneeth's defeat was a setback, but with a hope that if Mark defeats Zilberman with a score of 2-0 and Praneeth wins against Mark by the same score, he could have still made it on the game point difference. This might have been tricky but a possibility.
Though luck didn't favour India's No.13 seed as Mark Caljoum pulled off an amazing comeback to defeat Misha by 2-1 today. This might have pumped you up being hopeful of sai's journey at the Olympics, but sadly, that is improbable now.
Since Praneeth won no matches against Misha, he had a 2 game disadvantage while Misha lost to Mark but still won one of the games, which take him to a match difference of +1 (Match won against Praneeth (2) + Match won against Mark (1) - Matches lost against Mark (2)). Mark is also with the same difference presently, but even if Sai Praneeth beats him in the group stage match on 28th July with a score of 2-0, he still is at a difference of 0, finishing 2nd probably in the group but not enough to qualify.
Misha will directly qualify in such a circumstance, and Mark will say goodbye to his Olympics dream. The dream for an Olympic medal in men's singles is over for India, but for Mark and Misha, it all depends on this final encounter of B.Sai Praneeth v Mark Caljouw.