Indian shuttler HS Prannoy signed off with yet another semifinal finish at the Indonesia Open Super 1000 badminton tournament after going down in straight games to China’s Zhao Jun Peng in Jakarta on Saturday. World number 23 Prannoy couldn’t find his rhythm and lacked precision and control to lose 16-21 15-21 to Jun Peng, a two-time bronze medallist at the World Junior Championships, in a 40-minute last four clash. It was their first meeting in international badminton. Playing his second semifinal at the Indonesia Open, Prannoy, who turns 30 next month, fell behind from the start as he couldn’t keep pace with his opponent in rallies.
The left-handed Chinese put a lot of power in his smashes and his hold-and-flick shots also caught Prannoy off guard as he entered the first interval lagging 6-11 after two unforced errors.
The Indian seemed a little nervous as his net play was not as polished and he also lacked his trademark control on the shuttle.
As a result, the Chinese maintained his five-point lead till 14-9.
Prannoy briefly looked to dictate the pace in the rallies and narrowed the deficit to 14-16 with the help of some good strokes.
But the Indian let the momentum slip as another wide shot and a long return took the Chinese to 19-15 and he grabbed five game points with a cross court smash.
Prannoy saved one but Jun Peng sealed it in the second chance to have the bragging rights.
After the change of sides, Prannoy started constructing the rallies better and unrevealed his bag of trickery to lead 6-4. However, the joy was short-lived as the Indian missed quite a few chances.
He miscued his strokes which ended up going wide or at net, couldn’t match his rival in the flat exhchanges and also his weak returns were punished by Jun Peng, who soon turned the tables and entered the mid-game interval with four point advantage.
The Chinese looked in complete command after the break even as Prannoy struggled with his control, sending the shuttle to the net repeatedly.
Soon Jun Peng was up 17-9 after the Indian lost a video referral. A fast flat exchange ended with the shuttle going to the net from the Chinese, who committed another unforced errors to allow Prannoy a glimmer of hope.
But another wide return gave the Chinese eight match points. Prannoy saved three before Jun Peng produced a precise down-the-line smash on his rival’s forehand back corner to make his first final of a world tour event.
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