A fighting HS Prannoy edged out Japan’s Kanta Tsuneyama to progress to the semifinals at the Malaysia Masters Super 500 tournament here on Friday.
Prannoy, a former top 10 player, continued his consistent run an weathered the storm against world number 14 Tsuneyama to emerge victorious 25-23 22-20 in the 60-minute quarterfinal clash, which ebbed and flowed throughout.
One of the heroes of India’s monumental Thomas Cup win in May, Prannoy will face Hong Kong’s NG Ka Long Angus, seeded 8th, in the last four.
The men’s singles contest turned out to be a game of cat and mouse as the two highly-skilled players engaged in a battle of one-upmanship, with Prannoy showing better nerves as he saved game points twice to come up trumps against Tsuneyama.
Prannoy, who enjoyed a 2-1 head-to-head count, pounced on the chances early on to erase a slender 1-2 deficit, but the match was a tight affair as the duo moved from 3-3 to 10-10 following some short but attacking rallies in the opening game.
Tsuneyama produced some stiff angled returns and jump smashes to trouble his opponent, while Prannoy constructed his rallies well and kept the shuttle close to the line. Eventually a perfect judgement on the baseline gave the Indian a slender one-point advantage at the break.
Prannoy was rewarded for his razor-sharp precision as he eked out a 17-14 lead after his rival had grabbed four points to keep up with the Indian.
Tsuneyama scripted another recovery as he grabbed a game-point opportunity after Prannoy went to the net twice.
An on-rushing Prannoy saved one with a backhand flick and then unleashed an over-the-head return to move to a game-point advantage.
Prannoy, then, converted his fourth game point chance with the finest of margin, with the shuttle kissing the line.
After the change of sides, the duo were 4-4 when Prannoy took a medical timeout to address an issue with his foot. After resumption, he was 9-6 up.
However, Tsuneyama started dominating the rallies with his diagonal returns and moved to the break with a two-point cushion.
Prannoy pocketed four straight points to move to 13-11. A magnificent jump smash took him to 14-14, before he won a 34-point rally with another precise smash. The Japanese again eked out an 18-16 lead before an off balance Prannoy sent another one out.
Tsuneyama soon had two game point opportunities, but Prannoy saved both and earned a match point, with the Japanese going to the net. He threw a fist pump in the air after Tsuneyama went long.