India’s highest-ranked men’s singles player HS Prannoy surged back from a game down to overpower defending champion Viktor Axelsen in the quarterfinals to assure himself his first BWF World Championships medal in Copenhagen, Denmark on Friday.
The 13-21, 21-15, 21-16 win makes Prannoy the fifth Indian men’s singles player to win a World Championships medal and also extends India’s record of having at least one medallist in the event since 2011.
“Oh yes! I finally have a worlds medal,” said Prannoy after ensuring his maiden medal.
“I just zoned out, the only thing under my control is me. I was actually not thinking about anything else today, just thinking about what to do to take the next five points. A lot of thinking I was doing inside but was not aware of what was happening around me. I was pretty much in my zone after the second game.”
Prannoy, despite his current form, went into the match as an underdog against the Dane, who led their head-to-head record 7-2 and had won the last three tournaments he had participated in the run-up to the championship on home soil.
The world no. 1 looked like he could run away with things when he opened up a 9-2 lead in the opening game, which he then stitched up with ease.
Prannoy, who had upset 2021 World Champion Loh Kean Yew in the earlier round, showed greater purpose in his approach in the second game, reading Axelsen’s strokes far better. He also began finding his range with his smashes to put pressure on the Dane.
A 49-shot rally to make it 19-14 in the second game showed Prannoy’s resilience to take the game into the third set.
Prannoy didn’t allow Axelsen to settle in the third set as he forced the world no. 1 to constantly chase the shuttle.
There were a few nervous moments when Axelsen closed the gap from 6-12 to 14-17 but Prannoy stood his ground and forced errors from his opponents to wrap up the quarterfinal in an hour and eight minutes.
He will now face 3rd seed Kunlavut Vitidsarn of Thailand, who packed off Chinese Taipei’s Wang Tzu Wei 18-21, 21-15, 21-13.
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