HS Prannoy, PV Sindhu in Malaysia Masters semis - Hindustan Times
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HS Prannoy, PV Sindhu in Malaysia Masters semis

By, New Delhi
May 26, 2023 08:04 PM IST

Prannoy, the world No.9, now has a brilliant chance to enter his first final since March 2022

One hour four minutes. One hour 10 minutes. And now an incredible one hour 31 minutes. Giant-killer HS Prannoy has turned into a marathon man in Kuala Lumpur, knocking out top shuttlers in long drawn matches to enter the men’s singles semi-finals of the $420,000 Malaysia Masters on Friday.

Indian badminton player PV Sindhu(PTI)
Indian badminton player PV Sindhu(PTI)

The world No.9 now has a brilliant chance to enter his first final since March 2022 – when he lost the Swiss Open summit clash – with form on his side. After knocking out Chinese Taipei’s sixth seed Chou Tien Chen and reigning All England champion Li Shifeng of China in the first two rounds, Prannoy ousted current Spain Masters champion Kenta Nishimoto of Japan to advance to the last four of the Super 500 tournament.

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In an incredible contest that stretched to 91 minutes, the Thomas Cup champion brought out every ounce of his energy to oust the world No.13 — a player Prannoy had not beaten in his previous two meetings. But the 30-year-old came out on top with a 25-23, 18-21, 21-13 victory after saving four game points in the first game.

There was very little to separate Prannoy and Nishimoto in the first game with both shuttlers hammering down rocket smashes and regularly pushing the shuttle to the back court. But the Indian held his nerve at the end to take the lead in the match on his third game point.

The second game began in a similar fashion with the service changing after every point but from 12-11, the Japanese upped the ante to race away to a big lead and push the match into the decider.

After 4-all in the third game, Nishimoto started running out of steam with the Indian making the Japanese chase the shuttle from one end to another, tiring him further. At 11-5, it was quite evident the match going in favour of Prannoy, who hammered some cross-court as well as down-the-line smashes to enter the last four.

Next up, Prannoy will take on Indonesian qualifier and world No.57 Christian Adinata, who has also been in brilliant form in the Malaysian capital and accounted for the loss of Kidambi Srikanth, beating the former world No.1 16-21, 21-16, 21-11 in 57 minutes.

Sindhu too in last four

In the adjacent court, former world champion PV Sindhu earned a contrasting victory to also qualify for the women’s singles semi-finals. A two-time winner (2013 and 2016), Sindhu endured a topsy-turvy game against China’s Zhang Yiman to deliver a thrilling victory in a battle that lasted an hour and 14 minutes. The sixth seed, who has not been at her best since returning to the circuit earlier this year following a foot stress fracture, eventually came out on top 21-16, 13-21, 22-20.

The former world champion didn’t start well, struggling to win points (0-5) before fighting back to level the opening game at 10-all. It was one-way traffic thereon with the Indian easily taking the first game. Zhang turned the tables on Sindhu in the second to push the contest into the decider which went down to the wire.

The double Olympic medallist initially looked like running away with the contest while leading 12-8 but the Chinese world No.18 fought back to close it down at 17-all. Sindhu found spring in her step to win the next three points and have three match points in hand but Zhang saved all in thrilling fashion.

The Indian then used all her experience to finally clinch the encounter on her fourth match point to earn a third victory against the Chinese, who won a bronze at the 2021 World Championships, in four meetings.

Sindhu has a great chance of entering her second final of the year after Spain Masters in April as she faces Indonesian seventh seed Gregoria Mariska Tunjung against whom the Indian has a solid 7-1 record. However, the only loss world No.13 Sindhu suffered came in their previous meeting at the Spain Masters final.

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