HS Prannoy, on Friday, registered a magnificent come-from-behind win over Olympic and world champion Viktor Axelsen in his final BWF World Tour Finals 2022 match in Bangkok. Prannoy prevailed 14-21, 21-17, 21-18 over Axelsen in 51 minutes. It is his second win over the Dane shuttler in seven meetings.
In the opening game, Axelsen raced to an 11-7 lead at the interval. Prannoy bounced back with seven points, but the Dane upped the ante and cruised to take the game 21-14 with an angled crosscourt stroke.
Beginning the second game, Prannoy showed signs of a fight back, even smashing right into Axelsen’s nose to give him a brief scare. But that did not rattle the world no. 1 as Axelsen quickly gained a 6-4 lead.
Thereafter, world no. 12 Prannoy engaged Axelsen in rallies and net play to squeeze the gap to 8-10 and earned five consecutive points to take a 16-12 lead after the interval with smashes and edge-of-the-court strokes. The Indian, however, dropped the first game point chance at 20-15 while trying to play a crosscourt smash. He then quickly levelled the scoreline taking the game 21-17, with Axelsen hitting the net and sending the shuttle wide.
In the third game, Prannoy took a 4-2 lead. As he grew in confidence, he rattled Axelsen with smashes and deceptive cross-court flicks. By the interval, Prannoy had an 11-10 lead with Axelsen misjudging an edge-of-the-court shot. The game headed for a thrilling end, with both players going neck and neck at 18-18 before Prannoy earned two back-to-back points, one of which came off an unreturnable body smash, to take the match at 21-18.
Prannoy was already out of the semifinal contention after losing his first two Group A matches. In contrast, the reigning Olympic champion Axelsen beat Kodai Naraoka of Japan and Lu Guang Zu of China in straight games to seal his place in the last four.
Earlier, Prannoy lost to Naraoka and Guang Zu in successive matches. In both matches, the Indian shuttler lost after playing a three-game contest.
Prannoy was the lone Indian player competing at the 2022 season-ending BWF World Tour Finals - where only the top 8 players/pairs of the year take part.
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