Sai Praneeth is the only Indian to make it to the Japan Open semi-finals
Sai Praneeth’s loss also ends India’s campaign in the Japan Open. While Sai reached the semi-finals, PV Sindhu and Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy were knocked out in the quarters. Some of these players will now head to Bangkok for the Thailand Open.
Sai Praneeth vs Kento Momota 18-21, 12-21
It’s all over for India at the Japan Open Super 750. Momota converts the first of eight match points to take his spot in the final.
Sai Praneeth vs Kento Momota 18-21, 12-19
The frustration and hence the errors are increasing for Sai Praneeth. He now trails by seven points and seems to be at a point of no return.
Sai Praneeth vs Kento Momota 18-21, 9-11
Momota’s defensive prowess has not only allowed him to overturn a 6-9 deficit but he has now taken five straight points to go into the mid-game interval with a two point lead.
Sai Praneeth vs Kento Momota 18-21, 4-4
That was some rally. Sai did everything to win the point but his cross court smash goes wide.
Sai Praneeth vs Kento Momota 18-21
An error on a forehand push from Sai Praneeth gives Momota the first game. The Indian had managed to save two game points but the lead was a bit too much for him to cover.
Sai Praneeth vs Kento Momota 15-19
Second challenge also goes wrong for Sai Praneeth. She is clearly playing catch up now. Felt like he took the challenge more to get a break.
Sai Praneeth vs Kento Momota 11-15
Just when it looked like Sai Praneeth was getting into this match, Momota has found another gear. He started by winning two points with big jump smashes and has now opened up a four point lead.
Sai Praneeth vs Kento Momota 11-11
Sai Praneeth wins five straight points after the mid game interval to level the scores as Momota hits the shuttle long on the backline.
Sai Praneeth vs Kento Momota 6-11
Sai Praneeth is showing his wide array of strokes, playing the cross court drops and net dribbles but Momota has managed to return most of them. The World No 1 is extremely light on his feet and can reach almost every shuttle. But to his credit, Sai Praneeth is hanging on.
Sai Praneeth vs Kento Momota 3-2
Sai Praneeth has started well. But it was Momota wins the longest rally of the match. In the 45-match rally, Praneeth looked in control for most part before the Japanese turned things around
Japan have already started the day with two final spots already assured. While the women’s doubles semi-final was an all-Japanese affair, Nozomi Okuhara then got the better of Michelle Li in straight games to reach the final. Sai Praneeth now has the big task of upsetting the applecart.
Sai Praneeth has reached the semi-final without dropping a game in the first three rounds. In those, he has accounted for two local shuttlers and will be facing a third Japanese player in four matches.
Sai Praneeth and Momota have faced each other four times in BWF tournaments so far with the Indian winning two matches way back in 2013. The last time the two met, the Indian had come within striking distance of upsetting the World No 1 Japanese. Can he manage that today?
With PV Sindhu and men’s doubles combination of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy losing in the quarter-finals, India’s hopes at the Japan Open Super 750 badminton tournament now wrest entirely on former Singapore Open champion B Sai Praneeth.
The world No 23 will take on world champion and world No 1 Kento Momota in the semi-final on the latter’s home turf and would understandably start as an underdog.
Sai Praneeth has made the most of a slightly favourable draw once reigning Olympic champion Chen Long was knocked out in the opening round, thereby opening up the quarter. It is not to say that the Indian could not have beaten the Chinese fifth seed in the second round as the last encounter between the two at the Swiss Open semi-final had ended in a straight games win for the Hyderabad youngster.
His second semi-final of the year would, however, be a bigger challenge as Momota would be playing on his home turf and has the advantage over the Indian, having beaten in last two meetings.