HS Prannoy registered his second successive victory over former World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei to reach the men’s singles quarterfinals of the Denmark Superseries Premier on Thursday. Capping off a good day for India, Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth also registered wins to advance to the quarterfinals.
The world number 14 Indian, who had first defeated the two-time Danish Open champion Chong Wei in Indonesia in June, took 63 minutes to secure a 21-17, 11-21, 21-19 win. The Indian began well and opened up a 9-6 lead in the first game, but the World No.7 Malaysian soon caught up with him and levelled at 10-all before entering the break with a slender one-point lead at 11-10. Post the mid-game interval, Prannoy started showing his aggressive mindset and first bagged three straight points to open up an 18-15 lead before securing another three points to clinch the game 21-17. Realizing Prannoy's mindset, Chong Wei brought his A-game to the fore and started playing quick rallies while Prannoy struggled to control the shuttle from the more difficult side of the court, gifting the second game 11-21.
The decider was a closely fought affair as the duo ensured that their opponent never ran away with the lead as they went into the break with Prannoy trailing 10-11. Post the interval, Chong Wei won two quick points after the change of ends to open up a three-point lead, but the Indian was better prepared this time and forced the Malaysian to commit a flurry of unforced errors and picked eight straight points to take an 18-13 lead. Although Chong Wei equalised the game at 19-all, a cross-court smash gave Prannoy his first match point and through a fast-paced rally, he found a winner with a backhand clear to seal the game and thus the match.
In another men's singles match, three-time Superseries champion Srikanth didn't have to face any problem against Korea's Jeon Hyeok Jin as he cut the pace of the rallies and constructed his points, often finishing the point with a smash. The trait helped him open up an 11-7 lead. Jeon could never recover from that as Srikanth exploited his chinks with his better net play and precise cross-court smashes to win the first game 21-13.
In the second game, Jeon produced a splendid performance and raced to an 11-6 lead at the break before grabbing 10 of the next 12 points to force the game to the decider. In the final game, though, Srikanth dished out an aggressive display zooming to an 11-4 lead at the break. He, then, extended the advantage to 18-10 but Jeon scripted a fantastic comeback to reduce the deficit to one point at 18-19. But that couldn't delay the inevitable as a smash from Srikanth gave him the match point and he wrapped it up when Jeon hit the net.
In what was a wonderful Thursday for the Indian badminton fans, Saina Nehwal prevailed over Thailand's Nitchaon Jindapol 22-20, 21-13 in women's singles pre-quarterfinals to enter the final eight in the tournament. In the first head-to-head match between the duo, the Indian played little defensive first game but upped the ante in the second game to secure a berth in the quarters.
Now Prannoy will face former World No.1 Son Wan Ho and Srikanth will meet current world champion Viktor Axelsen in the quarter-finals, while Nehwal will square off against Japan's Akane Yamaguchi in her bid to seal a spot in the last four.
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