Just as Priyanshu Rajawat pushed the final shuttle of the match into the net, HS Prannoy walked over to the net to give him a pat on the back.

For a great part of their Round of 16 match at the India Open Super 750 on Thursday, in New Delhi, it was 21-year-old Rajawat who seemed like he would take the win in a cross-generational match.

But an untimely twisted ankle early in the second game did not allow the younger player the freedom of movement, as he tackled Prannoy, 10 years Rajawat’s senior.

This was a match between India’s present and future generation of men’s singles player. And though the injury to Rajawat made him look like a pale shadow of himself for the rest of the contest, he did give world No 9 Prannoy a run for his money.

Eventually, Prannoy would earn the spot in the quarter-final with a 20-22, 21-14, 21-14 win.

“I twisted my ankle while trailing 0-4 in second game and the tape that I wrapped around my ankle also tore off,” said Rajawat in the mixed zone after the match.

“I was scared to jump because of the pain for the remainder of the match.”

The world No 30 though did well to brush off the discomfort as he continued the match even though he lost points in bulk and called for medical assistance only during the mid-game interval. Yet the match remained an intriguing contest.

Both Prannoy and Rajawat know each other’s game inside out – they train at the same academy. You could tell that in the way the two players were made to grind out in long rallies, looking for new ways to out-think each other on court.

Rajawat started off slowly in the contest with multiple unforced errors – wide shots and the net, proving to be his bane. The younger player, who hails from Madhya Pradesh, however, kept testing Prannoy with some beautiful cross-court smashes and drops towards the latter’s backhand side.

The senior pro was often caught off-guard as Rajawat built on the momentum and left Prannoy wrong-footed in the later stages of the first game. He then wrapped it up with a powerful smash right down the centre straight at Prannoy.

That first game win was by no means a flash in the pan.

“[Rajawat] has been somebody who has come up really well in the past two years,” Prannoy said his teammate in India’s 2022 Thomas Cup triumph.

“I am sure he has the next four five years where you are going to see big wins from him. He is very talented, has got good skill and it is very tough to defend against him from some places [of the court].”

However, the twisted ankle soon turned things against Rajawat. The flashy cross-court smashes and deceptive drop shots from the first game completely disappeared as he struggled with pain.

A match that promised a lot just fizzled out to a one-sided battle in seconds much to the dismay of the crowd present, as well as Prannoy, who required medical attention twice himself with a bleeding finger on the right hand in the decider.

“Unfortunate for Priyanshu,” said Prannoy, the India No 1. “He couldn’t play post that second game but he was fighting till the end to make sure he finishes off the game.” he added

Having trained with each other under the watchful eyes of Pullela Gopichand, the camaraderie between the two shuttlers was quite evident as Rajawat went on to congratulate “Prannoy bhaiyya” – who has beaten him thrice now in as many outings in the World Tour, and backed him to win the title.

While Prannoy will now take on Chinese Taipei’s Wang Tzu Wei as the lone Indian singles shuttler standing in the competition, an anxious wait about the status of his injury ensues for Rajawat, who just recently made a comeback following a back injury.