BWF World Championships: Sai Praneeth settles for bronze

The Indian shuttler lost the men’s singles semifinal to World No 1 Kento Momota 13-21 8-21 in 41 minutes.

India shuttler Sai Praneeth in action at the World Badminton Championships semifinal against Kento Momota.   -  REUTERS


B. Sai Praneeth’s impressive run at the BWF World Championships ended as he succumbed to defending champion Kento Momota in a lop-sided semifinal to settle for bronze here on Saturday.

Praneeth’s attacking game couldn’t dent the defence of an in-form Momota as he went down to the World No. 1 13-21 8-21 in 41 minutes.

Notwithstanding the loss, Praneeth still achieved the rare distinction of becoming the first Indian male shuttler in 36 years to win a medal in the prestigious tournament.

Momota vs Praneeth | As it happened

Prakash Padukone was the first to win a men’s singles World Championships medal, a bronze, in the 1983 edition.

Praneeth made a good start to his semifinal clash, opening up a slender 5-3 lead. However, Momota slowly found his rhythm and turned the tables by entering the interval with a slim 11-10 advantage.

The left-handed Japanese stepped up after the break, reeling off four points to surge to 15-10. Praneeth couldn’t find the winners regularly and committed too many unforced errors to allow Momota widen the gap between them.

At 12-18, the Indian found the net thrice to hand over the opening game to the Japanese.

Praneeth was more competitive initially in the second game as he was tied 2-2 with his opponent but the Indian failed to lift the hard-hitting returns of Momota, sending the shuttle wide or at the net.

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While Praneeth was erroneous, Momota was consistent and it reflected in the scoreline, as the Japanese quickly jumped to 9-2.

A precise smash from Praneeth helped him to take a point but he misjudged a shuttle at the backline and then hit the nets as Momota grabbed a 11-3 advantage in the mid-game interval.

Praneeth’s struggle continued after the break as he couldn’t put pressure on his fancied rival, who rode on his resolute defence to dominate the rallies.

At 15-5, Momota made a rare error when he sent the shuttle long but his quick backhand reflex near the net earned him the serve again.

A cross-court smash at Praneeth’s backhand took Momota to 19-8 and he grabbed the match points when the Indian hit the nets again.

Praneeth then went wide as Momota raised his fist in celebration.

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