Indian shuttler HS Prannoy showed nerves of steel to stun world No 7 Jonatan Christie and enter the men’s singles second round at the Toyota Thailand Open Super 1000 tournament in Bangkok on Wednesday.
Prannoy recovered from a game down to upset the sixth seed Christie 18-21, 21-16, 23-21 in a thrilling contest that clocked an hour and 15 minutes.
Christie started out strong in the three-set marathon against the world No 28, claiming the first set 21-18 before Prannoy fired back in the second 21-16.
Both players showed flashes of brilliance and sloppiness in the topsy turvy deciding set of high drama.
Christie gave away two match points and right at the tail end Prannoy injured his left shoulder and needed medical attention but within minutes he marched back on court to win the game 23-21.
It is Prannoy’s first win against the Indonesian in last four attempts.
The former world No 10 had spent the last few weeks struggling with his physical and mental health after being down with Covid-19 nearly two months ago.
The infection left him with pain in his ribcage even though everything looked normal in the tests. He could resume training only in the second week of December but again had to go through the ordeal of a false positive result ahead of the Yonex Thailand Open last week.
“I’m proud of my win today. I haven’t practised the last few days and my rib was hurting. Probably there’s a muscle inflammation because I was coughing a lot when I had Covid,” said Prannoy, who will next take on Malaysia’s Daren Liew.
“Today I just wanted to stay in there as there were no expectations. “I had a fall and hurt my left shoulder. I felt it was dislocated but it went back into place. Right now it’s ok but it might start hurting again after a while.”
A disappointed Christie acknowledged he wasted several chances of victory in the 75 minute showdown.
“The first game, I controlled it. In the second, I think I made some mistakes. In the third I was leading, but I think it wasn’t good today,” he said.
Prannoy and Sameer Verma will carry India’s charge in the men’s singles after the withdrawal of fellow colleagues B Sai Praneeth and Kidambi Srikanth. Praneeth and his roommate Srikanth were forced to pullout after the former tested positive for coronavirus.
Among other Indians in the fray, the men’s doubles pair of MR Arjun and Dhruv Kapila beat New Zealand’’s combination of Oliver Leydon-Davis and Abhinav Manota 23-21, 21-17 to enter the second round.
However, the women’s doubles pair of N Sikky Reddy and Ashwini Ponnappa bowed out after losing 11-21 19-21 to German duo of Linda Efler and Isabel Herttrich. It all went wrong for Ponnappa and Reddy in the second half after a spate of unforced errors.
Later, N Sikki Reddy and B Sumeeth Reddy fought hard but went down to the Malaysian pair of Pang Ron Hoo and Yee See Chea 14-21, 21-18, 13-21 in 55 minutes.
In other singles results, second seed Chou Tien Chen’s match against Thailand’s Suppanyu Avihingsanon, who is ranked 45 in the world, was a walk in the park in comparison.
The Taiwanese shuttler wrapped up the game in a leisurely 36 minutes 21-16, 21-4.
“I think I am more relaxed than last week. I feel I am more in control of how I want to play and I feel that is working. I felt less nervous. I came mentally prepared today,” Chou said.
In the women’s singles, last week’s tournament winner Carolina Marin came up against 37th-ranked Qi Xuefei from France in what was a repeat of last week’s first round.
Qi bowed out again against the Spanish sixth seed losing the first game 9-21, but she put up a gutsy fight in the second, which ended 18-21.
Meanwhile, Thai youngster Benyapa Aimsaard, ranked 129th, beat Russia’s Evgeniya Kosetskaya, ranked 25th, in a three-set thriller – 21-15, 17-21, 21-19.
Thailand is hosting three consecutive badminton tournaments in Bangkok culminating in the World Tour Finals from January 27.
With PTI and AFP Inputs