Country’s top-ranked junior Chirag Sen produced a dramatic twist to the tale in the men’s singles when he knocked out top seed and defending champion B. Sai Praneeth in the pre-quarterfinals of the National badminton championship here on Friday.
Praneeth, who last month knocked out Malaysian great Lee Chong Wei from the All England championship, let go of a game point in each of the two games as Chirag kept his nerves to win 21-19, 23-21 in 35 minutes in a match delayed by three hours.
After Chirag won the final three points of the first game to leave Praneeth exasperated, the young trainee at the Prakash Padukone Academy claimed four of the last five points in the second to post a memorable victory.
Third seed R. M. V. Gurusaidutt almost joined Praneeth on the casualty list but survived owing to some over-ambitious play by enormously-skilled Harsheel Dani at the fag end of the 66-minute contest. Gurusaidutt won 21-18, 12-21, 23-21 after both players squandered a match-point in the final game.
In another interesting match, former champion Sourabh Verma dumped fourth seed Anand Pawar 23-21, 21-19 for a place in the quarterfinals.
In the ladies section , where most results came on expected lines, the experience of Neha Pandit came handy as she surprised last year’s finalist Rituparna Das 21-17, 16-21, 21-2 in 60 minutes, with the teenager virtually giving up the decider.
The results (pre-quarterfinals):
Men singles: Chirag Sen bt 1-B. Sai Praneeth 21-19, 23-21; Shreyansh Jaiswal bt Rupinder Singh 21-15, 21-14; Sourabh Verma bt Anand Pawar 23-21, 21-19; Aditya Joshi bt Subhankar Dey 21-16, 21-15; Neeraj Vashisht bt M. Mithun 21-12, 21-19; Pratul Joshi bt Bodhit Joshi 21-13, 21-9; Sameer Verma bt Siril Varma 21-18, 21-18.
Women singles: Tanvi Lad bt Vaishnavi Bhale 21-16, 21-14; P. C. Thulasi bt Shreyanshi Pardeshi 21-10, 21-14; Reshma Karthik bt Shruti Mundada 21-13, 21-14; Anura Prabhudesai bt Riya Pillai 21-19, 19-21, 21-16; Ruthvika Shivani bt Saili Rane 21-14, 21-13; Revathi Devasthale bt Sri Krishna Priya 19-21, 21-17, 21-19; Rasika Raje bt Sai Uttejitha Rao 21-14, 21-11; Neha Pandit bt Rituparna Das 21-17, 16-21, 21-2.