India’s campaign at the Japan Open ended on Saturday as B Sai Praneeth lost his men’s singles semi-final match in straight games against Kento Momota. The 26-year-old went down 18-21, 12-21 in 46 minutes to the world No 1 Japanese player.
Praneeth, the lone surviving Indian in the competition after PV Sindhu and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty lost their respective quarter-finals on Saturday, hadn’t lost a single game coming into Saturday’s match. But at the end, Momota was simply too good for him in a fairly one-sided encounter.
Momota took the momentum early as he came out on top in a brilliant 45-shot rally at the start of the opening game. He went into the mid-game interval with a 11-6 lead and got to 19-15 before Praneeth staged a small comeback by reeling off three straight points. But the world No 1 held his nerve to close out the game 21-18.
The second game was far more competitive, at least till the halfway stage. Praneeth put up a fight and was trailing by 9-11 before Momota decided to up the ante. The Japanese won ten of the next 11 points to seal the victory and book his place in the final.