The shock factor at the BCA Indonesia Open 2017 soared this afternoon as HS Prannoy knocked out Men’s Singles defending champion and top seed, Lee Chong Wei, in straight games.
The 21-10 21-18 upset was the Indian’s first victory in three encounters with the legendary Malaysian and propelled him into the Superseries Premier quarter-finals opposite China’s Olympic champion Chen Long.
Indian fans would have been doubly thrilled with the news that another of their badminton sons, Kidambi Srikanth, also progressed to the last eight, ousting Denmark’s Jan Jorgensen in a keen battle at Jakarta Convention Center. Srikanth prevailed 21-15 20-22 21-16 versus the No.4 seed and will now play Wang Tzu Wei of Chinese Taipei for a semi-final place.
“I should have pulled it off in the second game but I couldn’t control the shuttle as there’s so much drift. Conditions were very tricky so I am happy to get it done in the third,” said Srikanth who thwarted Jorgensen’s quest for a fourth successive Indonesia Open final.
Still searching for top form after a significant injury lay-off, the 24-year-old refused to get too far ahead of himself with predictions about his chances, limiting his comment to the following: “If I can play at 100 per cent, then I think I have a chance but I am only thinking as far as my next match.”
Meanwhile, Prannoy held firm against Lee who looked set to roll past him in the second game and force a decider. Trailing for much of the second game and clearly trying to find his rhythm, Lee manoeuvred to 17-17 but was unable to convert that into another change of sides as his rival’s resolute attacks paid off handsomely.
“When he seemed to be coming into form at 17-17 in the second game, I thought it was going to be a long match, but luckily I got the next few points. Today, my mindset was different. In previous matches against him I had a lot of confusion going on in my head. Today, I was much clearer. I was more aggressive with my shots,” explained Prannoy, striking a chord with local media who queried why he plays like retired Indonesian champion, Taufik Hidayat.
“Taufik was my idol when I was growing up. I watched and learnt how he played. He was one of the most amazing players and I am happy if I can do some things like him.”
Prannoy further delighted media when asked what he has to say to Indonesian and Malaysian fans after breaking their hearts by beating their players in successive matches.
He smiled and replied: “Well I have been breaking Indian hearts for a long time.”
Media erupted in laughter and applauded his wit.
In brief comments, Lee complimented Prannoy for taking his chances and attacking more while ruing his own “simple mistakes”.
Meanwhile, Kazumasa Sakai’s dream run continued as the qualifier beat Emil Holst of Denmark, 26-24 21-14. The young Japanese takes on experienced Englishman, Rajiv Ouseph, who jolted No.5 seed, Shi Yuqi, with a 21-12 21-15 triumph. The remaining quarter-final will feature No.2 seed, Son Wan Ho of Korea, and Chinese Taipei’s No.6 seed Chou Tien Chen.
In Women’s Singles, it was Beiwen Zhang and Nitchaon Jindapol who brought heartbreak to Indians with their first wins against Pusarla V Sindhu and Saina Nehwal respectively. The USA-based Zhang produced a 15-21 21-12 21-18 comeback versus No.4 seed Pusarla and now faces the imposing Sun Yu of China for the spot in the last four.
“Anything can happen here because you can’t play as usual in this wind. I will have to be patient tomorrow,” said Zhang whose aim is to reach the semi-finals.
Thailand player, Jindapol, regrouped after dropping the second game to beat Nehwal (21-15 6-21 21-16), holding her nerves as she and the former Indonesia Open winner engaged in some punishing exchanges, including a 52-shot rally that left Jindapol doubled over and gasping for breath. It will not get any easier for the 26-year-old whose next opponent is current title-holder Tai Tzu Ying. Despite a touch of flu, the Chinese Taipei athlete paced herself in a 21-13 21-16 win over 17-year-old Indonesian, Gregoria Mariska Tunjung.
The other two quarter-finals will see No.3 seed Sung Ji Hyun (Korea) oppose China’s Chen Xiaoxin while Akane Yamaguchi battles Sayaka Sato in an all-Japan showdown.