Star Indian shuttlers HS Prannoy and Lakshya Sen progressed to the men’s singles second round of the World Championships with straight-game wins over Finland’s Kalle Koljonen and Mauritius’ Georges Julien Paul respectively in Copenhagen, Denmark on Monday. Prannoy, the world number 9, who reached the quarterfinals in the last two editions, saw off the left-handed Koljonen 24-22, 21-10 to extend his head-to-head count over the Finnish player to 3-0. Sen, the reigning Commonwealth Games gold medallist, then streamrolled Paul 21-12, 21-7 in 25 minutes to follow Prannoy into the second round.
The Almora shuttler, who had won a bronze in the 2021 edition, is likely to meet Korea’s Jeon Hyeok Jin, while the 31-year-old from Kerala is expected to face Indonesia’s Chico Aura Dwi Wardoyo next.
The match between Prannoy and Koljonen turned into a tight battle in the opening game with the Finnish player quick to open up a 8-4 lead. But Prannoy reeled off seven straight points to grab a 11-8 lead at the break.
However, an exciting battle ensued after resumption with Koljonen eventually grabbing three game points after pushing one away from the forehand of his opponent.
A calm Prannoy, however, saved all three game points before hitting wide to once again hand over the advantage to his rival.
A backhand block at the net helped him save another game point but he sprayed into net next as it was 22-21 in favour of the Finnish player.
However, Koljonen couldn’t capitalise as he hit long and lost a net duel to gift the lead to the Indian, who converted with a brutal cross-court smash.
The second game started on an equal footing with Prannoy marginally leading 6-5 at one stage. However, the Indian soon zoomed away to open up a six-point lead at the break with a straight smash.
The Indian kept moving ahead with Koljonen finding it hard to negotiate the angles and deceptions of Prannoy, who soon gained 12 match points after Koljonen hit wide.
Prannoy missed one at the net and Koljonen saved another one before the Indian shut the door with a straight smash.
Sen, who had defeated Paul en route his CWG gold, had no issues in brushing aside his rival. He opened up a 11-3 lead and though Paul managed to make it 8-12, the Indian soon changed gears to seal the opening game.
Sen continued in the same vein after the change of sides as it turned out to be an extremely lop-sided contest with the Indian gaining 13-2 lead. Eventually, Paul hit out twice to hand over the match to Sen.
Earlier, the Indian mixed doubles pair of Rohan Kapoor and N Sikki Reddy, ranked 33rd, lost to Scotland’s Adam Hall and Julie Macpherson 14-21, 22-20, 18-21 in a 59-minute contest.
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