Thailand Open | Sai Praneeth clinches maiden title

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Thailand Open | Sai Praneeth clinches maiden title

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SportsCafe Desk

06/04/2017

Sai Praneeth showcased nerves of steel to comeback from a set down to lift his first Thailand Open title against Indonesian Jonatan Christie. After losing the first game 17-21, the Indian staged an incredible comeback winning the next two games 21-18 and 21-19 to win the Grand Prix event.

Jonatan Christie came out of the blocks flying and raced to a 3-0 lead in no time. However, Praneeth got his first points of the day with a smash down the line and four points later the duo were level at 4 points apiece. Praneeth then took a 7-5 lead before the Indonesian fought back to with a series of smashes to go into the mid-game interval with a slender 11-9 lead. After the break, Christie continued to keep the pressure on Praneeth, but the Indian managed to level the game at 14 all with yet another accurate smash down the line. Though Praneeth managed to take a two-point lead, the Indonesian’s incredible defence kept him in the game and it was the 19-year old Christie who managed to up his game at the fag end of the game as he closed out the first game 21-17.

After losing the first game Praneeth came out fighting in the second as he quickly established a 5-0 lead. With some forceful play, the lead was soon extended to seven points with the scoreboard reading 8-1. But Christie was not quite ready to surrender just yet and over the next nine points, Praneeth could only win one as the scores were levelled at 9-9. Following the break, both players kept on exchanging points with no player able to take a two-point lead until the scoreboard read 17-15. With the wind in his sails, the Indian brought up three game points but needed just two to level the final up at a game apiece with a score of 21-18.

As the game headed into the decider, it was Praneeth who started off brightly taking a narrow 2-1 lead but much like the first game the Indonesian fought back to win six points in a row to take a 7-2 lead. This time it was Praneeth’s turn to launch a fightback and in no time the game was level at 9-9. At as the players crossed over for the last time in the tournament, it was Christie who held the slight advantage with a 11-10 lead. Errors were starting to creep into the Indonesian player’s game and the Indian took the initiative as he opened up a 17-15 advantage for himself. As the game headed to an exciting conclusion Praneeth and Christie played out the best rally of the game that ended with the Indonesian putting in a full length dive to retrieve the shuttle but ended up conceding a 17-19 lead. Even though Christie levelled the game at 19-19, Praneeth never looked like he was going to let the game slip and with a powerful body smash, he won the decider 21-19.

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