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Prannoy praises rising star Priyanshu’s talent and growth after intense match

New Delhi: HS Prannoy is once again leading the Indian charts in men’s singles after securing his spot in the quarterfinals of the India Open S750 tournament at the KD Jadhav Indoor Hall in New Delhi on Thursday.

Prannoy overcame the Indian challenge of Priyanshu Rajawat in a 76-minute long match, securing a gritty three-game (20-22, 21-14, 21-14) win. He rallied back from a one-game deficit to clinch the victory in front of the home crowd.

This deep run into the tournament is a significant confidence boost for Prannoy early in the year, especially after facing a first-round exit in the Malaysia Open last week, where he lost to the eventual champion Anders Antonsen of Denmark.

Last year, HS Prannoy faced an Indian opponent in the early rounds of the India Open, losing in the first round clash to Lakshya Sen. He has expressed a dislike for playing fellow Indians early in the rounds.

He reflects on facing Indian opponents, stating, “It’s always challenging when you have three Indian players in the same pre-quarters bracket at a 750 level. It can be quite irritating, but that’s how things unfold sometimes, and we have to cope with it. Similarly, you see many Chinese and Japanese players competing against each other early on.”

The match unfolded with both players displaying steady play initially. Prannoy transitioned into his aggressive gameplay, skillfully countered by Priyanshu’s defense and deceptive skills. The first game reached a tense 18-18, went to deuce, and Priyanshu secured the win at 22-20.

Reflecting on the tight first game, Prannoy commented, “The first game was very close; I had my chances at 18-16, but I missed those. Priyanshu started playing steadily towards the end, but I knew I could excel in the second and third games, needing to stretch the match for a win.”

The second game saw Prannoy dominating with an early 7-0 lead. Unfortunately, Priyanshu twisted his ankle during a rally, hindering his natural attacking game. Despite a valiant effort, he couldn’t execute half-smashes or cross-court placements, leading to his exit in the round of 16.

Prannoy highlighted the challenge of facing someone who knows your game well, stating, “When you know there is somebody who knows your game very well, then it’s all about how you execute your preparations on the court, especially in the closing moments of the game.”

Expressing sympathy for Priyanshu’s injury, Prannoy stated, “Priyanshu twisted his ankle in the second set. It was unfortunate, but he fought till the end to finish the match somehow.”

Priyanshu, acknowledging the pain and challenges post-injury, said, “I was very afraid to play after that ankle issue in the second set. The ankle was also paining when I tried to jump for a smash or placements.”

Despite the setback, Priyanshu expressed hope for Prannoy’s success, saying, “Now, I will hope that Prannoy can win the gold for India in this tournament. I like his gameplay and would want to learn from him, especially how to keep patience in tough times and appreciate his aggression on the court.”

Prannoy commended Priyanshu’s impressive growth, stating, “Priyanshu is somebody who is doing really well from the past one and a half years. It’s remarkable to see a 21-year-old play this well, and I’m sure he will only get better in the next 4-5 years. With his talent and diverse skills, he’ll undoubtedly secure some significant wins. Defending against his shots can be challenging in certain situations.

Prannoy concluded by expressing his happiness, “Having the opportunity to spar with such a talented youngster is beneficial, adding more skilled players to the ecosystem, and I’m very happy for that.”

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