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World championships: Slow starter Prannoy, Lakshya Sen enter 2nd round

HS Prannoy, carrying high hopes of winning his first medal at the BWF World Championships, was made to work hard before winning his opening round at the Royal Arena in Copenhagen on Monday.

Lakshya Sen of India hits a return against Jonatan Christie(AFP)
Lakshya Sen of India hits a return against Jonatan Christie(AFP)

The 31-year-old had to save five game points before he won the contest 24-22, 21-10 in 43 minutes against Kalle Koljonen, taking his head-to-head record against Finland’s world No.57 to 3-0.

Perhaps due to nerves on the big stage, the world No.9 trailed 4-8 in the opening game before settling down to race to a 11-8 lead at the interval.

Coach RMV Gurusaidutt rushed to speak to Prannoy, but chief national coach Pullela Gopichand looked relaxed, confident his ward will win comfortably.

In a topsy turvy game, the lead kept changing hands before Koljonen won three points in a row, pulling away to 20-17. The India No.1 dug deep to save the three game points and two more before finally converting his first game point.

Letting out a yell to assert himself after prevailing in the first game, the Kerala shuttler was back to his normal self. The Finn was no match for Prannoy in the second game as he found his rhythm, reaching match point at 20-8 before clinching the contest on the third opportunity.

Prannoy next faces Indonesia’s world No.21 Chico Aura Dwi Wardoyo, who beat him in their first meeting in in 2018. Prannoy though has won the last two times, both coming this year. Like Prannoy, Wardoyo too has been in form this year, reaching three finals and winning the Taipei Open.

Later, on the same court Lakshya Sen eased past Georges Julien Paul, hammering the Mauritian 21-12, 21-7 in 25 minutes. It is Sen’s second straight victory against the world No.111. The Commonwealth Games champion will face South Korea’s Jeon Hyeok-jin for a place in the last 16. The world No.51 though won the only time they met, at last year’s Badminton Asia Team Championships.

However, it was the end of the road for mixed doubles pair Rohan Kapoor and N Sikki Reddy, who lost 14-21, 22-20, 18-21 to Scotland’s Adam Hall and Julie MacPherson.

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