World No 16 HS Prannoy said he was disappointed that he could not make the best of a favourable draw in the All England Open, after he was beaten by the 42nd-ranked Chinese Huang Yuxiang in the quarter-finals on Friday.
Prannoy was left to rue an inexplicable error late in the third game when, at 20-20, he hit his smash into the net with Huang lying on the floor. Prannoy lost 22-20, 16-21, 21-23 after an hour and 17 minutes. If he had won, he would have set up a mouth-watering clash with the legendary Lin Dan in the semi-finals.
“I’m really disappointed that I will not be playing [on Saturday],” Prannoy said after the match. “I was really looking forward to it, but hopefully next year I will have another chance to go further.”
Prannoy faced world No 8 Chou Tien Chen in the first round and beat him in three games, before getting the better of Indonesia’s Tommy Sugiarto in straight games. He even had a one-game lead against Huang, an opponent he was expected to beat, but could not get past the final hurdle.
“If you had asked me at the start of the tournament I would have said to get to the quarter-finals was a dream,” Prannoy said. “Though now I am really disappointed because I had one of the best draws after the first round and I didn’t really take that opportunity given to me.”
Prannoy also rued that error late in the third game, saying that was one shot that he really should have got in. “There are matches where you really don’t know what to do to get that one big point. It’s really disappointing I would say. One point does big things for your life. I’m really disappointed to have not made the semi-finals here, it’s one of my big dreams to do so one day,” he said.
The 25-year-old has not been in the best of fitness ever since he won the national championship in November last year. After playing the Premier Badminton League in January, he got a foot corn that led to a first-round exit at the India Open. The All England was his first tournament after that and Prannoy admitted he was not at his 100%.
“I was not moving very well today,” he said. “My preparations were not quite 100%, I had a pretty mischief body after last night, so I couldn’t move as freely as I wanted to.” Prannoy’s next challenge will be the Commonwealth Games in April and he said he hasn’t really planned his calendar after that yet.
Huang, on the other hand, is relishing the opportunity to take on his veteran compatriot Lin Dan in the semis but hoped his body can recover in time for the clash. “I need to make sure I rest tonight to retain my physical level and help my muscles,” he said. “I need to come back and make sure I am in a good fit state to play against Lin Dan.”
On how he overcame a higher-ranked opponent, Huang said he just stuck to his plan throughout. “I think I have executed and delivered my tactics quite well, I insisted in playing my own way,” he said. “My opponent did change his style in the final two opportunities, but I am happy I stuck to my plan.”