HS Prannoy advanced to the Australian Open final after defeating compatriot Priyanshu Rajawat in straight games in Sydney on Saturday.
Star Indian shuttler HS Prannoy looked in great shape as he defeated youthful compatriot Priyanshu Rajawat in straight sets to go to the final of the Australian Open Super 500 badminton competition in Sydney on Saturday. The 31-year-old Prannoy, who defeated the 21-year-old Rajawat in the men’s singles quarterfinals with ease by scores of 21-18 and 21-12, will play in his second Super 500 final of the year. On Sunday, the summit matchup would pit the ninth-ranked Indian against Weng Hong Yang of China.
Weng, ranked 24th in the world, is an interesting matchup because Prannoy had upset him in the Malaysia Masters final in May to win his first individual championship in six years. Aside from that, it was their sole encounter on the global circuit to date.
Rajawat’s remarkable week came to an end with the defeat and his first-ever finish in the super 500 semifinal.
With his spectacular come-from-behind victory over top seed and world no. 2 Anthony Ginting in the quarterfinals serving as the highlight, Prannoy has displayed exceptional form throughout the week.
Prannoy, a young player known for his quick hands and legs and quick net play, demonstrated on Saturday his ability to draw out mistakes from his younger opponent.
Rajawat started on a bright note, with his service giving him a 2-0 lead, but Prannoy gradually began to build his points and forced his youthful rival to err, registering four straight points to move ahead.
Rajawat sought to step up his attack, and two excellent-looking jump smashes helped him draw even at 7-7, but unforced errors continued to erase his fine work, and Prannoy had a two-point lead at the break.
The Madhya Pradesh 21-year-old tried to stay in the rallies and grabbed four out of five points after resuming to keep nipping at his senior rival’s heels.
After the break, Prannoy collapsed into a pool of blunders, and Rajawat levelled the score at 14-14. The youngster had a neck-and-neck lead until 18-18.
However, after unleashing a devastating smash and a backhand return, a patient Prannoy secured two game points and then sealed it comfortably to earn the bragging rights.
Nothing changed following the switch of sides, as Rajawat continued to struggle with unforced errors, making life simple for Prannoy, who maintained a high tempo and utilised his offensive style to take an early 5-2 lead.
Rajawat had some nice smashes but was unable to continue the attack, as his attempts frequently ended at the netting or wide of the court.
However, the kid never gave up and managed to tie the game at 7-7 after winning four straight points, including a 41-shot rally.
Rajawat hit a down-the-line smash after Prannoy threw one wide, struck the net once, and landed a cross-court smash out, but such moments were few and far between as the senior Indian broke off again to grab an 11-7 lead at the break.
When Rajawat went wide again, Prannoy maintained his four-point lead. With a couple more points, the youngster kept breathing down his opponent’s neck, making the score 11-13.
But Rajawat couldn’t keep up the effort against the seasoned Prannoy, who used a late burst of smashes to jump to 18-11 and quickly secured eight match points, which he converted on the first try.