Not for the first time this year, HS Prannoy and Lakshya Sen will have to go up against each other at a BWF World Tour event. India’s two men’s singles shuttlers, who have each had impressive seasons on their own as well as teammates at the historic Thomas Cup campaign, will meet in the round of 16 at the Denmark Open Super 750 in Odense after coming through stern opening round challenges on Wednesday.
Also winning their matches on the day were Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty who booked their spot in the round of 16 of men’s doubles. They faced a tricky test against Korea Open winners this year, but the Indians defeated Seo Seung Jae/Kang Minh Hyuk in straight games 21-15, 21-19. They came back from 5-10 in game 2 to ensure this didn’t go the distance.
One of the biggest wins on the day for India came late in the night as Tanisha Crasto and Ishaan Bhatnagar defeated world No 15 Rinov Rivaldy and Pitha Haningtyas Mentari in the mixed doubles in a thriller. The Indonesians went down 21-9 17-21 22-24 in 65 minutes as the Indians bounced back in fine style.
Saina Nehwal, however, saw her campaign come to a close after a three-game defeat against Zhang Yi Man. The former world No 1 fought back to force a decider against 2021 World Championships bronze medallist but lost 21-17, 19-21, 21-11 in 47 minutes.
Lakshya Sen started off his campaign in Odense with a straight games win over world No 6 Anthony Sinisuka Ginting in round of 32 on Wednesday. The 21-year-old registered a dominant 21-16, 21-12 win in 39 minutes. With this, the Indian kept up his perfect record against the Indonesian superstar. Their head-to-head is now 3-0 in favour of world No 8 Sen.
In a later match, HS Prannoy came through an intense battle China’s Zhao Jun Peng. After trailing 7-9 in the opening game, Prannoy put together a run of nine straight points and ended up closing it out comfortably. But the second game was a fiery battle, going back and forth, before Prannoy faced a game point. The Indian saved that and won it 21-13, 22-20 in 43 mins.
The left-hander had defeated the Indian twice already this year, both times ending Prannoy’s dream runs. First, was at the prestigious Indonesia Open in the semifinal and the second was one step short of the podium at the World Championships in Tokyo. Incidentally in both those tournaments, Prannoy had defeated Lakshya to get that far. And now his reward to defeat Zhao is another face off with his compatriot, their fifth this year with the H2H split at 2-2, with Prannoy winning the last two matches.
Lakshya, Prannoy pass tough tests
On paper, it was bizarre for a world No 6 and world No 8 to face each other in the opening round. With Lakshya unseeded from the time draw was made, he was given a tough test against the Olympic bronze medallist. But the Indian youngster, enjoying a wonderful season, was up for it from the word go. After a few tight exchanges, where Lakshya had to bring out the best of his defence, he imposed himself on the opening game. The second game was a much breezier affair for the Indian with Ginting struggling to find his radar.
For Prannoy, there was a chance to have some payback and he played with a determination from the word go to get one back against the Chinese left hander. Zhao started better from a fantastic run of points either side of the interval was enough cushion for the Indian. The second game went back and forth and it was Prannoy who had to fight back from 7-11 down to close this out in straight games.
On Thursday, round of 16 action will take place where apart from Prannoy vs Lakshya, Srikanth Kidambi will be in action against Loh Kean Yew in a repeat of the 2021 World Championships final.
All England champions Bagas Maulana-Muhammad Fikri from Indonesia await Satwik-Chirag while Gayatri Gopichand and Treesa Jolly will take on Rawinda Prajongjai/Jongkolphan Kititharakul, the sixth seeds.
In mixed doubles. Tanisha/Ishaan’s win was their first against a top 15 pair in the world. The Indians are currently ranked 31. After dropping the opening game, the youngsters bounced back to take the second game. The decider was a mighty close affair with both pairs tussling for the lead. Tanisha and Ishaan kept inching ahead late on but the Indonesians kept pulling things back. In the end, the Indians were the ones who had multiple match points and they converted their fourth to take a thriller.
They will next face Yuta Watananbe and Arisa Higashino, the second seeds from Japan.