The build up to the BWF Badminton World Championships wasn’t great for Indian shuttler HS Prannoy. The 27-year-old, who got a berth in the tournament only thanks to late withdrawals of Viktor Axelsen and Shi Yuqi, was unhappy after being overlooked for the Arjuna Award and had vented his frustration on social media.
But it would seem he has now found additional motivation to give to his best at the St. Jakobshalle Arena in Basel as he upset five-time former champion Lin Dan 21-11, 13-21, 21-7 to advance to the third round on Tuesday.
And he made no bones of the fact that he looked at the tournament as an opportunity to prove to himself that he is a big event player and was looking forward to facing top seed and defending champion Kento Momota in the next round.
Momota later overcame Luis Enrique Penalver of Spain in the second round with consummate ease (21-7, 21-7 in 33 minutes).
“Yes, I am looking forward to Momota because there are some things which I need to prove and this is the event which I need to [do that]. And [want to] believe that I am big tournament player and probably the day after might be a good day,” he said when asked about his tough draw and possibility of facing Momota in the next round.
Prannoy hasn’t beaten Momota in their previous five encounters and would need to bring his A game while facing the Japanese world No 1.
Speaking about his second round encounter against Lin Dan, Prannoy said he was prepared to play a long match as the shuttles are slow and experienced players like the Chinese legend know how to play in big halls.
“Starting and ending was really good for me. For me in the second game, strategy probably just went the opposite way. I am very happy that I was patient today and I was ready for a long match,” the former world No 8 said.
With this win, Prannoy also joined a very elite group of people who have an overall winning record against Lin Dan. This is Prannoy’s third win against the all-time great in five meetings.
“He is a big player. You can’t take anything for granted in the game and that was running in my mind even when I was leading 11-5 (in the decider). I was cautious that this should not slip away and I really needed to focus on the next points and not really think about the win. I think that helped and that is one think I need to do on everyday basis, not just against Lin Dan,” he added.