Sunday, October 1, 2023

Malaysia Masters: Prannoy Beats Yang, Clinches Maiden BWF World Tour Title

Malaysia Masters

Kuala Lumpur, May 28 : Ace Indian shuttler HS Prannoy finally clinched his first-ever BWF World Tour title with a hard-fought three-game triumph over China’s Weng Hong Yang in the men’s singles finals of the Malaysia Masters Super 500 held in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday.
In an intense battle lasting 94 minutes, Prannoy exhibited exceptional composure and determination to secure a 21-19, 13-21, 21-18 victory against his Chinese opponent, who is ranked 34th in the world. This victory marks a significant milestone for Prannoy, as he had been longing for an individual title since his triumph at the 2017 US Open Grand Prix Gold.
Despite being an integral part of India’s triumphant Thomas Cup campaign last year, Prannoy has been unable to secure an individual title until now.
The 30-year-old came tantalisingly close to ending his title drought at the Swiss Open in the previous year, where he reached the finals, and also reached the semifinals stage at both the Malaysia Masters and Indonesia Super 1000 tournaments.
With this long-awaited victory at the Malaysia Masters Super 500, HS Prannoy has not only proven his mettle on the international stage but also signalled his potential to achieve further success in the future.
On Sunday, HS Prannoy, ranked ninth in the world, managed to break the jinx and deliver a remarkable performance against his 23-year-old Chinese opponent in a gruelling battle.
Throughout the week, Prannoy showcased his exceptional physical and mental strength as he tactfully outwitted his opponents. He overcame tough challenges from players of high caliber, including the world number five Chou Tien Chen, the reigning All England champion Li Shi Feng, and Japan’s Kenta Nishimoto, in hard-fought three-game matches.
Prannoy’s victories over such formidable opponents are a testament to his skill, resilience, and strategic acumen on the badminton court. His ability to maintain focus and outmaneuver his rivals in long-drawn battles further underscores his determination and perseverance.
With these impressive performances, Prannoy has demonstrated his capability to compete at the highest level and establish himself as a force to be reckoned with in the international badminton arena.
Prannoy’s plan was simple: keep up a consistent attack, retrieve everything and wait for the opponent’s mistake.
The Indian used his angled returns to create chances and his economical court mobility helped him to keep pace with his quick left-handed opponent.
From 1-3 down, he drew parity at 5-5 after lunging forward to put the shuttle away from Weng.
The Chinese stepped ahead but two wide shots meant it was 7-7. Prannoy would, at times, end rallies with a miscued shot at the net, allowing his younger rival to get into leads.
A precise down-the-line smash brought the Indian back at 10-10 before Weng smashed on the net.
Prannoy kept a conservative approach as the rallies extended. Soon the duo moved to 16-16. After missing out on a few net shots, Prannoy grabbed a couple of points before a relentless attack earned him two game points.
He was guilty of giving a mid-court return and it was punished. Weng next sent his backhand to net, as Prannoy earned the bragging rights.
After the change of sides, Weng was 4-0 up after Prannoy went for a flashy return at the net and also hit long twice. A big smash followed by a backhand snap shot got Prannoy going as he moved to a 5-4 lead with a superb backhand block.
In a game of fine margins, the duo tried to play tighter shots and Weng managed to grab an 11-9 cushion at the interval.
Prannoy then hit an erroneous patch, finding the net and also missing the lines, and suddenly, it became 16-10 in favour of Weng.
Frustration was writ large on the Indian’s face as errors kept tumbling out of his racquet. Soon Weng grabbed seven game points with a cross court return and converted with a precise return on the backline to force a decider.
In the third game, Weng held on to his momentum even as Prannoy kept snapping at his feet at 6-8. A net kill helped the Indian draw level at 8-8 before Weng ended an exciting rally with a smash.
Another splendid rally ended with Prannoy producing another superlative shot at the net to bamboozle his opponent, as he went into the mid-game interval with a slender one-point lead.
After resumption, Prannoy unleashed his cross court smashes to move to 14-11. Weng produced a precise smash and then targeted his rival’s body twice to narrow it down to 13-14.
Prannoy let out a loud cry after a cross court smash, opening up a 16-13 lead.
Looking for precision, Prannoy however missed the lines a few times and another such long shot helped Weng to make it 18-18.
Prannoy kept his nerves and responded with a smash, leaving Weng on the floor. Another magical smash, which just kissed the lines, gave Prannoy two championship points, and he converted it after his opponent hit wide.
(ToI With PTI inputs)