HS Prannoy’s second brilliant run in the Indonesian Open badminton was halted in the semi-finals in Jakarta on Saturday. Like in 2017, he outplayed some of the best in the business at the Super 1000, $1.2 million tournament, only to be stopped at the last four stage.
Five years ago, Prannoy, 29, had beaten greats like Chen Long of China and Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei before losing. Saturday was no different as the world No 23, who had helped India win a historic Thomas Cup title in Bangkok a month ago, was error-prone and lost 16-21, 15-21 in 40 minutes to China’s Zhao Jun Peng in their first meeting at the Istora Stadium.
Prannoy was nervy from the start and never settled down, handing the contest to Zhao, who will face Danish Olympic champion and world No 1 Viktor Axelsen, who beat Asian champion Lee Zii Jia of Malaysia 19-21, 21-11, 23-21 in a thrilling 70-minute battle.
“I did not think I will reach the finals. I just tried to give my best in each and every match. Prannoy was probably tired after long matches in previous rounds which probably helped me win many points,” the Chinese world No 35 said.
Prannoy could not find form or rhythm, which resulted in several simple errors from the start as he handed the lead to Zhao. The southpaw took advantage by forcing Prannoy to move from end to end, pocketing the first game in 18 minutes.
The shuttler from Kerala was finding his rhythm at the start of the second game only to lapse into errors again. And Zhao capitalised. From 7-all, the Chinese regularly caught the Indian off guard, racing to 18-9. Former player RMV Gurusaidutt’s advice from the coach’s chair didn’t help as Prannoy’s challenge fizzled out.
Still, Prannoy is enjoying a solid season. He reached the final of the Swiss Open in March at Basel before guiding India to the Thomas Cup. He is next scheduled to play in the Malaysia Open in Kuala Lumpur from June 28 to July 3.
India Open status upgraded
The Badminton World Federation (BWF) has upgraded the India Open from a Super 500 event to Super 750 from 2023 to 2026. It will attract the world’s best as the New Delhi event will offer more ranking points and prize money.
The world body also announced the addition of four tournaments to the BWF World Tour from 2023 to 2026, expanding the calendar to 31 events.
“More tournaments give us a fantastic opportunity to enhance the sport’s reach around the world, not only in established territories, but in to new ones as well. It also allows for more players to enter our elite circuit and gain valuable experience,” BWF secretary general Thomas Lund said.
The Malaysia Open joined the All England Open, China Open and Indonesia Open as the tour’s highest level Super 1000 tournaments. India and Singapore Open have been bumped up to Super 750 status alongside the existing events in China, Denmark, France and Japan.
The Super 500 level includes host cities from three new continents with tournaments in Australia, Canada and Finland joining events in Hong Kong, Indonesia, South Korea, Malaysia, Thailand and an additional new host in Japan.
Two existing Super 100 tournaments have been elevated to BWF World Tour Super 300 level—Hylo Open and Orleans Masters.