India’s in-form shuttlers PV Sindhu and HS Prannoy are once again the last two shuttlers standing at a BWF World Tour event this year as they entered the quarterfinals with impressive wins on Thursday in Kuala Lumpur at the Malaysia Masters.

In the absence of some of the other higher-ranked players on tour currently, Sindhu and Prannoy have been the ones reaching quarterfinals and beyond in recent times and that proved to be the case once again.

Sindhu cruised to the quarterfinals with an authoritative win over 2021 World Championships bronze medallist China’s Zhang Yi Man on Thursday. Sindhu, seeded 7th, backed up her solid win against world No 9 He Bing Jiao in the opening round. She didn’t trail in the entire match against Zhang, winning 21-12 21-10 in just 28 minutes.

The reward for Sindhu, is a 22nd match on the tour against the incredible Tai Tzu Ying. It’s a rematch of the Malaysia Open Super 750 quarterfinals from last week and Sindhu will be keen to put an end to a six-match losing streak against Tai and improve a 5-16 head-to-head record against the world No. 2.

Also reaching the quarterfinals with a straight-games win was Prannoy. Having returned to the top 20 in the world on the back of his good recent form, the 29-year-old defeated another higher-ranked player in Wang Tzu Wei. In an entertaining match between two exciting shot-makers, the Indian prevailed over world No 16, 21-19, 21-16 to enter the last 8.

The opening game was a hard-fought battle and the second half was a superb contest with both shuttlers coming up with good attacking rallies. From 19-19, Prannoy closed things out with a forehand crosscourt and a lucky net chord.

The second game too saw Wang open up a 10-5 lead but Prannoy was on fire from that point.

He will now face Kanta Tsuneyama of Japan, who had defeated his compatriot and second Kento Momota in straight games. Prannoy has a 2-1 H2H against the world No 14 and last met him at this same event in January 2020 which he won.

In other men’s singles contests, B Sai Praneeth lost to 2018 Youth Olympic Games champion Li She Feng of China 14-21 17-21 in 42 minutes while Parupalli Kashyap bowed out too. Sixth seed Anthony Sinisuka Ginting defeated Kashyap 21-10 21-15 to extend his H2H to 8-0. The second game was a good battle and the players have a nice moment at the net at the end of it.

Momota exhausted

Week after ending a long wait to appear in a final, Momota had another early exit.

The tournament is the second time Momota has played in Malaysia since he was involved in a car crash in the country two years ago that sent his career into free fall.

Tsuneyama, ranked 14th in the world, beat Momota 21-15, 21-16 in an encounter lasting 50 minutes.

An energetic Tsuneyama outclassed his star opponent with accurate drop shots that left Momota reeling.

Momota later admitted he was exhausted from back-to-back tournaments after competing in the Malaysia Open last week.

“I have no injury, but I am really tired from the last two weeks of tournaments. At the moment, I do not have enough reserve in my tank,” he told reporters.

“I cannot play at the highest level in 10 straight matches like I used to. I have no endurance and am not in the best condition right now,” he added.

Momota was thrashed by world number one Viktor Axelsen in the final of the Malaysia Open on Sunday.

Denmark’s Axelsen, the reigning Olympic champion, outplayed the Japanese star from start to finish, taking only 34 minutes to win 21-4, 21-7.

But Axelsen withdrew from the Masters which started Tuesday, saying he needed to “rest and recharge” after wins in Malaysia, the Indonesia Open and Indonesia Masters over the past month.

Momota was involved in a car crash that killed his driver on the way to the airport after winning the Malaysia Masters in January 2020.

It left Momota with a fractured eye socket and double vision. When he returned after a year out of action, the Japanese ace was a shadow of his former self.

But Momota has now set his sights on doing well at the World Championships on home soil in August.

“I tried my best, but it was really tough against Tsuneyama,” he said.

“But after the two tournaments in Malaysia, I have found some feeling and need to maintain it until the world meet.”

(With additional AFP reporting)

BWF Malaysia Masters 2022 – Quarter Finals on July 8th, Friday, 12:30 PM onwards will be live on Sports18 1 SD & HD and Voot Select in India.