The all-Indian second-round clash between Kidambi Srikanth and HS Prannoy lived up to the expectations as the fourth-seeded Srikanth edged his compatriot to reach the quarter-finals of the Hong Kong Open 2018 in Kowloon, Hong Kong on Thursday. Srikanth saved four match points to beat his training partner 18-21, 30-29, 21-18 in 1 hour 7 minutes.
Joining him in the quarter-finals was Sameer Verma, who got a walkover from fifth seed and defending runner-up Chen Long. Two-time runner-up PV Sindhu was a casualty on Day 3 of this Super 500 tournament as she crashed out to former World No. 2 Sung Ji Hyun 24-26, 20-22 in 59 minutes.
Meanwhile, India’s campaign came to an end in doubles with twin defeats. The men’s doubles pair of Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy crashed out with a 16-21, 15-21 loss to the 16th ranked Chinese Taipei pair of Lee Jhe-Huei and Lee Yang.
Lee Yang was also responsible for the defeat of India’s mixed doubles pair of Ashwini Ponnappa and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy. Yang partnered Hsu Ya Ching to a 21-17, 21-11 win over the Indian national champions.
Srikanth and Prannoy were meeting for the first time since the National Championships final a year back. And, on the BWF circuit, this was their first showdown since the entertaining semi-final match that they had contested at the French Open more than a year back.
Prannoy had the early lead in that match but Srikanth squeezed out the second game and then staved off a challenge from the Kerala shuttler to get the win. The Hong Kong Open 2018 second round match too followed a similar pattern.
The tight opening game remained on level terms till 8-8 after which Prannoy snatched the lead to go up to 14-12. Despite some stiff resistance from Srikanth, Prannoy managed to eke out the game.
The match reached its climax in the second game where none refused to give the other an inch of space. From 10-10, Prannoy went ahead to 15-13, but Srikanth stormed back to go ahead into the lead at 17-16.
Prannoy once more imposed his authority with his attacking play to inch ahead to 19-18. From 19-19, the game had a dramatic ending as they fought tooth and nail, saving match points and game points galore.
Prannoy saved seven-game points while Srikanth saved four match points before winning the crucial deciding point at 29-29.
Emboldened by that comeback, the Guntur-born shuttler raced ahead in the decider to 11-4 as Prannoy fell behind. The match was far from over as Prannoy drew level at 16-16 before seeing Srikanth moving up to match points at 20-17.
Prannoy did save one match point after that only to see Srikanth finally convert the second one and bring an end to what was thoroughly a match to remember.