In the first game, Sai Praneeth began well, taking a 3-2 lead. After that, the number 1 ranked Kento Momota showed his class with forceful shots and placements. At the interval, the Japanese led 11-6. After the break, Praneeth came back strongly to take 5 points in succession to level the scores at 11-11. They were fighting for each point till 14-14. Later Momota played great badminton and forced the Indian to make mistakes and kept on increasing his lead. Finally, Momota won the first game at 21-18.
The second game saw exciting rallies between Praneeth and Momota which levelled the scores at 4-4. Sai took a 2-point jump to go up to 7-5 as the Japanese made a strong comeback. At the interval, Momota led 11-9. After the interval, Momota increased his aggression and was too strong for Praneeth. He won the second game at 21-12 to move into the final of the Japan Open.
The performance of Indian shuttlers at the Japan Open 2019 was decent enough. Sai Praneeth was the only Indian who had the distinction of reaching the last-four stage. PV Sindhu, the men’s doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty reached the quarter-finals stage.
PV Sindhu won the first two matches but was outplayed by her opponent Akane Yamaguchi of Japan in the quarterfinals for the second time in succession in the last one week. The 2-time World Championship silver medallist reached the final of Indonesia Open last week but could not reach the semi-finals in Japan Open as she faced a wall in Yamaguchi.
Indian men’s ace player Kidambi Srikanth, the women’s doubles pair of Ashwini Ponnappa and Sikki Reddy, mixed doubles pair of Pranaav Jerry Chopra and Sikki Reddy were knocked out in the first round disappointingly. HS Prannoy and the mixed doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Ashwini Ponnappa finished their campaign in the 2nd round.
With the Thailand Open coming up next week, the Indian shuttlers need to work out better strategies to show improved performances.Published 27 Jul 2019, 19:18 IST