Badminton Asia Championships 2018: Saina Nehwal, HS Prannoy settle for bronze
The Indian challenge at the Badminton Asia Championships 2018 being held in Wuhan, China, came to an end on Saturday as both Saina Nehwal and HS Prannoy lost their respective semifinal matches.
Saina rolled back the years and played out of her skin but eventually fell to the might of Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei. On the other side, despite his best efforts, Prannoy suffered defeat at the hands of World No. 3 Chen Long.
In the process, both the Indians settled for the bronze medal. This was Saina's third medal at the continental championships. For Prannoy, though, it was his first at this tournament. Notably, this was India’s first men’s singles medal since 2007, when Anup Sridhar bagged the bronze, and third overall.
Saina goes down fighting
Right from the start, Tai Tzu asserted her dominance over Saina and took an early lead. The World No. 2 was as accurate as ever with her backhand slices and drop shots and it looked like there was no way back for Saina, at least in the first game.
However, the 28-year-old showed great resilience to stage a terrific fight back. From 10-15, she rallied back to level at 15-15, a period in which the Indian forced Tai Tzu into committing errors. As the game progressed, it turned out to be a nail-biting contest.
At 20-18, Saina had two game points but she let Tai Tzu off the hook, courtesy of a bad judgement call. In the end, though, after saving a barrage of game points, Tai Tzu managed to eke out a 27-25 win.
The second game started off in a similar fashion with the World No. 12 going toe-to-toe with Tai Tzu. Tai did manage to take lead for some time, but it was Saina who had the advantage at 19-17. From there, though, the Chinese Taipei shuttler snatched four consecutive points to win the match 21-19.
Prannoy bows out
Coming off the back of a superb victory against World No. 2 Son Wan Ho, Prannoy was brimming with confidence and it was showing in his game. However, the third-seeded Chen Long turned out to be too strong for the Indian.
Prannoy did go off to a good start in the first game, taking an early four-point advantage. But the Olympic champion managed to get into his groove soon and drew level. Heading into the breather, Chen had a one-point lead at 11-10. After that, though, there was no stopping the Chinese shuttler who took the first game 21-16.
The second game was a tighter affair as the Indian World No. 10 managed to make a comeback from 6-11 down to level at 12-12. However, at a crucial junction, the Kerala-born shuttler made an unforced error to hand the lead to Chen. The Chinese then took no time to wrap up the game at 21-18.