India’s top singles shuttlers PV Sindhu, HS Prannoy and Srikanth Kidambi on Thursday reached the quarterfinals at the Malaysia Masters Super 500 in Kuala Lumpur.
Sindhu defeated a familiar foe in Aya Ohori 21-16, 21-11 while Prannoy made it back-to-back comeback wins as he downed All England champion Li Shi Feng 13-21, 21-16, 21-11.
There was however disappointment for Lakshya Sen as he bowed out in straight games against Ng Ka Long Angus.
Former world No 1 Srikanth took on eighth seed Kinlavut Vitidsarn having never beaten the Thailand player in their previous three meetings. Srikanth started poorly falling 0-5 and 1-8 behind in the opening game. However, he kept chipping at Vitidsarn’s lead and soon made it 17-19 before going on a four-point run to close out the game.
“I didn’t really start well in both games so I’m just happy I finished it off,” said Srikanth later. “The last few tournaments I wasn’t able to do that. I gave away leads and when that happens, it’s always tough to catch up. Today was about being there and not giving out easy points.”
The second game followed a similar pattern with Vitidsarn quick off the blocks but Srikanth slowly making inroads into the game. The Indian trailed 13-18 at one point. And like in the first game, Srikanth won four points on the trot in the end to seal a 21-19, 21-19 win.
“I feel I should be consistent throughout tournaments, consistent for one whole week to win any event,” Srikanth told BWF. “That’s something I haven’t been able to do. Happy with the performance but just want to keep improving from here.”
The last time Srikanth defeated a top 5 player was at Japan Open last year, when he beat Lee Zii Jia.
The report on BWF also added that Srikanth will be working with Indonesian coach Wiempie Mahardi, a former top 25 player, to help his Paris qualification chances.
Another top win for Prannoy
Prannoy had defeated world No 6 Chou Tien Chen on Wednesday with another gutsy comeback. And he started the match against Li looking like he was feeling the effects of that intense, often fiery battle against the Chinese Taipei star. But the rallies were often long and Li didn’t have things easy despite staying in the lead for most part. That it took 23 minutes for 21-13 in Game 1 said its story. The second and third games, however, witnessed the world No 9 from India turning the heat on and put Li under pressure.
After forcing the decider, Prannoy took a huge lead at the final change of ends with a strong start to the third game. While Li threatened to close the gap down, Prannoy had done enough damage early on to close the match out.
Srikanth will face Indonesian qualifier Christian Adinata in the quarter-final while Prannoy will face Japan’s Kenta Nishimoto next. Should both win their matches, it will set up an all-Indian semi-final.
Earlier, Sindhu was in complete control for the most part as she played a much better match compared to her struggles against Line Christophersen on Wednesday. The Indian’s attacking game was sharper on Thursday and Ohori, the rare left-hander who Sindhu doesn’t struggle against, made ample errors on her part.
With the win Sindhu, made it 13-0 against Ohori on the head-to-head. It was a consistently good level of display from Sindhu. The two-time former winner of this event (from when it was a Grand Prix Gold) will take on China’s Zhang Yi Man next. Zhang had defeated Sindhu at the All England earlier this year and has a 2-1 H2H against the Indian.
Lakshya Sen, however, couldn’t make it a perfect day for India. The CWG 2022 gold medallist, who defeated Loh Kean Yew in the first round for an impressive win, lost in straight games against world No 14 Ng Ka Long Angus of Hong Kong.
Angus made it 3-0 against Sen on H2H. He started off both games strong but Sen fought back to close the gaps down. The Indian did better in the second game, repeatedly cutting the lead to 1 but Angus kept pulling ahead. In the end, he sealed the win in two games after Sen managed to save two match points.
Here is a look at India’s scheduled for Friday:
More information on how the matches panned out here in a Twitter thread.