HS Prannoy in action© AFP
HS Prannoy’s dream run at the World Championships ended after he lost in three games to world number 3 Kunlavut Vitidsarn of Thailand in the men’s singles semifinal to sign off with a bronze, extending India’s record of having at least one medallist in the showpiece since 2011. The 31-year-old Prannoy squandered an opening game advantage and a 5-1 lead in the second as Vitidsarn, a three-time former world junior champion, dished out better defence and attack to win 18-21 21-13 21-14 and seal a second successive final spot. Notwithstanding the loss, it was a brilliant achievement for Prannoy as he became only the fifth Indian men’s singles player to win a World Championships medal.
Kidambi Srikanth (silver), Lakshya Sen (bronze), B Sai Praneeth (bronze) and Prakash Padukone (bronze) are the other medallists in men’s singles.
Two-time Olympic medallist PV Sindhu won five singles medals, including a gold in 2019, and Saina Nehwal (silver and bronze) claimed two, while the women’s doubles pair of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa bagged a bronze in 2011 and Satwiksairaj rankireddy and Chirag Shetty clinched a bronze in 2022.
A day after knocking out Olympic gold medallist and defending champion Viktor Axelsen, Prannoy, who claimed Malaysia Masters title and a runner-up finish at Australian Open this season, failed to find his best as his defence looked shaky and attack lacked consistency during the 76-minute clash.
Prannoy had lost to Vitidsarn in two tight games at the All England Championships last year and knew about the Thai’s defensive prowess and ability to retrieve.
India’s top-ranked men’s singles shuttler made a good start but signs of exhaustion set in from the second game, perhaps due the three-game matches that he played in the last two days.
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