Kuala Lumpur: India’s highest-ranked singles players, P.V Sindhu, H.S. Prannoy and Kidambi Srikanth, advanced to the quarterfinals of the Malaysia Masters 2023 badminton championships with contrasting wins in their respective Round of 16 encounters in women’s and men’s singles respectively, here on Thursday.
Prannoy, ranked 9th in the latest BWF Rankings, continued his brilliant run in the BWF World Tour Super 500 event in the Malaysian capital, stunning All England champion Li Shifeng of China with a superb come-from-behind victory in three games on Court 1 at Axiata Arena here.
Prannoy, who had started his campaign here with a hard-fought 16-21, 21-14, 21-13 win against sixth-seeded Hou Tien Chen of Chinese Taipei on Wednesday, defeated his Chinese opponent 13-21, 21-16, 21-11 in Round of 16. He will face Japan’s Kenta Nishimoto in a last-8 encounter on Friday.
In the same men’s singles, Kidambi Srikanth, who won the silver medal in the 2021 World Championship, stunned Thailand’s eighth seed, Kunlavut Vitidsarn 21-19, 21-19 in a 45-minute clash in the men’s singles Round of 16.
Double Olympic medallist Sindhu, the sixth seed here, had it a bit easy in the women’s singles pre-quarterfinals clash as she comfortably got the better of Aya Ohori of Japan 21-16, 21-11 in 40 minutes.
Sindhu, who won a silver at Rio Olympics in 2016 and followed that up with a bronze in Tokyo 2020, will lock horns with China’s Zhang Yi Man to book a spot in the semifinals.
However, former World Championship bronze medallist Lakshya Sen was sent packing in the pre-quarterfinals by Hong Kong’s Ng Ka Long Angus, the 28-year-old ranked 14th in the BWF Rankings. Lakhsya, who is ranked 22 in the latest singles rankings, went down 21-14, 21-19.
The day belonged to Prannoy, who caused a major upset by getting the better of the reigning All-England champion. Prannoy, who helped India win the Thomas Cup title last year, lost the first game to the in-from Chinese star, who surged ahead from an early 4-2 lead to open a 9-2 gap. The Chinese player maintained a 4-5 points advantage as he went on to win the first game 21-13.
The second game was closely fought and after Prannoy and Li Shifeng exchanged the lead twice, the Indian opened up a 6-3 lead. The Chinese shuttler narrowed the gap to one point before Prannoy won a few points in succession to make it 11-7. But Shifeng tied the scores at 11-all before Prannoy grabbed the lead again at 14-13 before making it 18-13 and went on to win the game and take the match into the decider.
In the third game, after the initial skirmishes, the 30-year-old Indian right-hander opened a gap from 4-4 to 8-5 before winning eight consecutive points to make it 16-5. Shifeng could not recover from that and he narrowed the gap to 16-9, Prannoy went on to win the game 21-11 and sealed a memorable win in the 70 minutes encounter.
The two players engaged in 103 rallies in the match of which Prannoy won 55 and the 23-year-old Chinese won 48. – IANS