Newly crowned Thailand Grand Prix Gold champion B Sai Praneeth credited the change in mind set and self-belief following the Singapore Superseries triumph for the way he fought back in the final against Jonatan Christie despite having his back to the wall.
Sai Praneeth came back from a game down and then a 3-8 deficit in the decider to beat the 19-year-old Indonesian 17-21, 21-18, 21-19 in an hour and 11 minutes to clinch his second successive international title.
The world No 24 had not dropped a game in Bangkok before the summit clash but the aggressive start from his opponent probably caught him off guard. Those who have followed Sai Praneeth’s journey in the senior circuit would tell stories about how the 24-year-old had succumbed to pressure or ran out of steam during such close encounters.
But on Sunday, Sai Praneeth not only kept his head but had the presence of mind to play some of his best strokes to turn the tables on an opponent who was also displaying his nervous side on crucial occasions.
“I think the way I played in Singapore really helped me. There, all my matches were three games and the pressure has changed my thinking,” who also has the Canada Grand Prix and five challenger level titles in his trophy cabinet.
“Like today after losing the first game, I could just forget the first game and focus on the second and that helped me start better,” he told The Field from Bangkok.
Sai Praneeth always expected a tough outing in the final given the fact that Christie is one of the rising stars of world badminton and possess a wide array of strokes similar to the Indian shuttler.
In the final, both players got the crowd on its feet several times with their delectable cross court drops, the net dribbles that almost kissed the tape and the booming jump smashes.
“It was a tough match. I made a couple of mistakes under pressure and even he was making unforced errors at the end. I was bit tired at the end but I am happy to have pulled off the match,” said the ONGC employee.
Sai Praneeth will now play the Indonesia Superseries Premier and the Australia Superseries before beginning his preparation for his maiden World Championship appearance in August. And given the change in approach and confidence levels, badminton fans should expect similar performances from him from here on.