CHENNAI: HS Prannoy was the last Indian standing in the men’s singles category during the recently-held World Championships. On the big stage, the Kerala shuttler, who has been operating at a high level in recent times, had upset the likes of Kento Momota and compatriot Lakshya Sen before losing a tight contest in the quarterfinals.
Barely days later at the ongoing Japan Open in Osaka, Prannoy is again weaving the magic with his racquet. Just like at the World Championships, he’s the last Indian man standing in the draw. The highly-touted Loh Kean Yew, seeded No 8, was Prannoy’s latest victim on Thursday.
The Indian displayed his ability to dig deep during crunch situations to record a 22-20, 21-19 win over his Singaporean rival. What was impressive was the manner in which he dug deep in both games. He was trailing by a big margin in both stanzas and the momentum was clearly with his opponent. Yet, he did a Houdini- style escape on both occasions.
Loh would surely be scratching his head at how he failed to make his big lead count. Chou Tien Chen of Chinese Taipei, a bronze medallist during the aforementioned Worlds, will be Prannoy’s next opponent. Chen has won four times in seven meetings between the two but Prannoy has gotten the better of the World No 4 in their last two meetings. Meanwhile, Kidambi Srikanth, who shocked World No 4 Lee Zii Jia (seeded No 5) in the opening round, went down 21-10, 21-16 against local star Kanta Tsuneyama in the second round.