Jakarta : There was no stopping Indian shuttler H S Prannoy’s giant-killing spree as he stunned World and Olympic Champion Chen Long to enter the semifinals of the Indonesia Super Series Premier along with Kidambi Srikanth.
A day after he dispatched three-time Olympic silver medallist and World No.3 Lee Chong Wei, Prannoy proved his mettle once again, beating eighth seed Chen Long 21-18 16-21 21-19 in an energy-sapping men’s singles match that lasted an hour and 15 minutes.
Compatriot Srikanth, who was playing on another court, also reached the last four round with a 21-15 21-14 win over Chinese Taipei’s Tzu Wei Wang. “It was an extremely tough match today. But I was confident of doing well. I guess it is because of better fitness that I could play till the end,” Prannoy told PTI.
“After the India Open and Asia Badminton, I really worked on my fitness under the new coach Mulyo Handoyo, who was the coach of Taufik Hidayat.
“So the training schedule was different. Earlier it used to be in short sessions but now it is long four-hour sessions and I feel it made a lot of difference to us,” he added.
World No.25 Prannoy, who made his way through the qualifiers, had never defeated the Chinese in their earlier three meetings but it proved to be a different day. The Indian showed better control in windy conditions to emerge victorious and enter his maiden semifinal of a super series event. Prannoy will take on Japan’s Kazumasa Sakai, while Srikanth will face Korean second seed Son Wan Ho next. Prannoy opened up an early lead at 8-5 before extending it to 11-7 with a jump smash to enter the break with a four- point advantage in the opening game.
After the break, Prannoy buried a backhand into the net and he also hit long to concede points. A cross court smash took the Indian to 15-10, while a defence lapse from Chen Long gave Prannoy a 17-11 lead. But the Chinese grabbed two more points with a net dribble and angled smash.
Prannoy faltered with two backhand returns as Chen Long made it 15-18 in a flash. A smash and a magnificent rally won Prannoy five game points. Chen Long managed to save two points before Prannoy grabbed the opening game when the Chinese hit wide.
In the second game, Prannoy and Chen Long engaged in a fierce rally with the Indian depending on his smashes and the Chinese riding on his better net play.
After 6-6, Chen Long grabbed four straight points to reach 10-6. Prannoy smashed one but he sent another cross court to the net as it was advantage Chen Long.
After the break, Prannoy narrowed the gap to 11-12 with Chen Long hitting wide. But the Chinese produced some stunning returns to once again distance himself.
Prannoy drew level at 16-16 with an accurate net return but Chen Long once again opened up a two point gap. Another error at the baseline took the Chinese to 19-16 and he grabbed the game when the Indian failed to lift a shuttle at the net. In the decider, Prannoy lagged 1-4 early on, owing to a series of miscued strokes at net. The Indian narrowed it to 3 -4 by trying to change the pace of the rallies.
Prannoy managed to level the score at 7-7 when Chen Long faltered at the net.
Chen Long, however, ensured he had the advantage when he entered the break with a slender 11-10 lead.
After the interval, Prannoy won a point after Chen Long’s unsuccessful challenge. The Indian started controlling the rallies and moved to a 16-13 lead with an angled crosscourt shot.