HS Prannoy Ensures A Medal For India; Defeated World no.1 Viktor Axelsen In WBC

HS Prannoy enters the Semi-Finals of the World Badminton Championships by defeating world no.1 Viktor Axelsen. Finally the World no. 9 would have a worlds medal in his pocket.

HS Prannoy

HS Prannoy extracted the last ounce of energy from his reservoir to stun two-time defending champion Viktor Axelsen of Denmark in a thrilling 68-minute quarterfinal to ensure a medal for India in the World Badminton Championship here on Friday.
 In a nail-biter, Prannoy once again showed his big-match temperament as he fought back from a game down to outwit the world No. 1 one Axelsen 13-21 21-15 21-16 in-front of his home crowd at the Roal Arena.

"O' yes! I finally have a worlds medal," said Prannoy after ensuring his maiden medal.
Prannoy played under immense pressure with the home crowd rooting for the world No. 1 Axelsen.

"I just zoned out, the only thing under my control is me. I was actually not thinking anything else today, just thinking what to do to take the next five points," the world number 9 said. "A lot of thinking I was doing inside but was not aware what was happening around. I was pretty much in my zone after the second game."

The 31-year-old from Kerala, who claimed the Malaysia Masters Super 500 and reached the finals at Australian Open Super 500 this year, thus continued India's dream run at the World Championships as the victory sealed the country's 14th medal in the event.

Two-time Olympic medallist PV Sindhu won five of them, including a gold in 2019, and Saina Nehwal (silver and bronze) claimed two. Kidambi Srikanth (silver), Lakshya Sen (bronze), B Sai Praneeth (bronze) and Prakash Padukone (bronze) are the other medallists in singles.
Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and CHirag Shetty had won a bronze in the last edition, while Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa claimed a bronze back in 2011 in the women's doubles. 

Earlier, Indian pair of Satwiksairaj and Shetty missed out on a second World Championships medal after suffering a shocking straight-game loss to Kim Astrup and Anders Skaarup Rasmussen of Denmark in the men's doubles quarterfinals.

The world number two Indian pair, which had claimed a maiden bronze in the last edition, couldn't produce their attacking game and went down 18-12 19-21 to the 11th seeded Danish combination, the 2021 bronze winners, in a 48-minute battle.
Prannoy came into the match with a 2-7 head-to-head count but he had troubled the Dane in their last meeting at Japan Open. Both the players seemed a tad nervous as Axelsen led 5-2 after producing two smashes on his rivals forehand.
A desperate Prannoy sprayed into the net twice to allow Axelsen a 2-9 lead as soon he entered the break with a six-point cushion after a clever return to serve.

The Indian tried to slow down the rallies and engaged his rival in a flat drive to make it 9-13. Prannoy tried not to lift against the tall Dane and looked to extend the rallies to draw out errors from Axelsen.

However, the Dane managed to move to 16-11 with a superb cross court smash. Prannoy did all the hard work to stay in the rallies but erred in his finishing.  Soon the Dane grabbed seven game point opportunity and sealed it when the Indian's cross court went wide.

In the second game, Prannoy looked to change the pace of rallies, using more tosses and clears. He defended well but he missed a trick in his finishing as Axelsen led 5-4. 

A precise jump smash evened things before Prannoy went into a lead with Axelsen going wide. Axelsen restored parity at 7-7 with Prannoy's wristy net shot going wide. A couple of sloppy returns from Axelsen gave Prannoy two point lead at the break.
 A slew of attacking returns gave Prannoy another point. The Indian produced another precise on-the-line smash followed by another down the line return to take the lead to 15-10. Axelsen went out and soon it was 17-10.
 The Indian was 18-11 up next with Axelsen going long. He sprayed twice to net as Axelsen send down a whipping straight smash. Prannoy won a 47-shot rally next after Axelsen sprayed into net.
 The Indian grabbed six game points and converted in the second attempt after Axelsen went wide.
 In the decider, the two played some excruciating rallies to move neck and neck from the start. The Indian played some accurate returns and moved to 7-5. 
 A straight down the line smash from Prannoy coupled with weak returns from the Axelsen saw the Indian gain a 11-6 lead at the interval.
 On resumption, Axelsen tried to play the angled returns but Prannoy managed to stay ahead at 14-9 after winning a video referral.
 A cross court smash and a steep straight return helped Axelsen make it 11-14. Prannoy showed good control, producing yet another precise smash on the lines before unleashing a whipping backhand to move to 16-11.
 Axelsen sent another wide as Prannoy led 18-14. An error on the net from Axselsen gave Prannoy five natch points. He squandered one before converting the next as Axelsen sent wide again.
 Talking about his new shots, Prannoy said: "Before coming for Worlds, we had a week's time, all we do was practice some few shots, learn something new, so there was this shot at 19-19 yesterday, that didnt work but the guts to try something new is a never ending process.
 "We are trying to find new shots because we are playing against top 10, top 20 every week. I might come out with a new shot next week."