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Error-Prone HS Prannoy Signs Off With Maiden Asian Games Bronze

An error-prone HS Prannoy signed off with an Asian Games bronze, India’s first medal in men’s singles in 41 years, after going down in straight games to reigning All England champion, China’s Li Shi Feng, in the semifinals in Hangzhou on Friday. The World No.7 Indian, who is playing with a back niggle, committed too many unforced errors to go down 16-21 9-21 against the home favourite and world No. 8 Li in a 51-minute contest. It was India’s second medal in men’s singles since Syed Modi claimed a bronze in the 1982 edition in New Delhi. (Asian Games 2023 Medals Tally | Asian Games 2023 Full Schedule)

Prannoy was also part of the silver medal-winning Indian men’s team last week.

The 31-year-old from Thiruvananthapuram made a good start but lost the plot midway through the opening game, mainly due to the errors he committed while looking for precision in his return, going wide and long in the process.

Prannoy focussed on constructing his rallies, using his drops to good use to lead 3-1. He mixed his shots well, shying away from smashes and instead using tosses to pin his opponent to the baseline.

Li tried to step up the pace and drew parity 5-5. The Indian then used his smash to get a point and soon moved to 8-5. He produced a forehand deceptive return to go to 9-7.

However, looking for precision, Prannoy missed the lines on the flank a few times to allow the Chinese to recover. Li made it 10-10 before a deceptive drop gave Prannoy a one-point cushion.

He led 13-11 when things started turning, as Li made it 15-14 with Prannoy erring.

The Chinese also grew in confidence and used his attack to move to 17-14. A straight jump smash kept Prannoy going, but he soon fell behind to 15-19.

Li won a net duel to gain four game points and then a lucky net cord ended the opening game.

The second game too was a tight affair initially as the duo battled to 4-4 but Li used his attacking returns and started dominating the rallies to eke out a four-point advantage at 8-4 with a net kill. Li had a five-point lead at the interval.

With Prannoy finding it hard to curb his errors, points kept coming thick and fast for Li as he moved to 14-6. The Chinese looked more sharp and showed better anticipation to move to 19-9 in a jiffy.

An on-the-line return gave 11 match points to Li and he sealed it comfortably.

Prannoy conceded that not being being able to achieve peak fitness levels was one of the reasons for his defeat. The 31-year-old Indian has played almost all his matches here with a heavily-taped lower back.

“Credit to Li. He played a really solid game out there. I had more chances in the first game but it drifted away from me after 14-14. At my current fitness level, I’m happy enough to play the semifinal on such a big stage,” said Prannoy.

“It’s the first time he’s beaten me and maybe my fitness played a part, but today he was much better prepared. The crowd gave him confidence. I think a combination of factors gave him the edge.” The shuttler also indicated that the taxing Paris Olympics qualification schedule was taking a toll and he will have to “take care” of his niggles.

“Sadly, there are tons of tournaments before that (2024 Olympics). A whole year of qualifications and so many tournaments can be cruel for some badminton players. I need to take care of these issues (back injury) so now it’s important to get back and check my whole body to make sure I’m fit the entire year.” Prannoy also conceded the difference in age between him and Li could also have been a contributing factor for his loss.

“I think age is a factor because some of them (players) are 21 or 22, and they’re flying all over the court. We have to manage these youngsters but there is also some fun in that.”

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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