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New Zealand Open: HS Prannoy, Sourabh Verma lose; Indian campaign ends

The Indians were the favourites to win.


Prannoy's win streak came to an unfortunate end
Prannoy's win streak came to an unfortunate end

The Indian campaign came to a disappointing end in the quarter-finals of the $120,000 SkyCity New Zealand Open 2017 with twin losses for HS Prannoy and Sourabh Verma in Auckland on Friday. The fourth seeded Prannoy’s loss was the most heart breaking as he squandered as many as four match points to go down 10-21, 22-20, 21-23 to the World No. 48 Lin Yu Hsien in 1 hour 6 minutes.

With this, Prannoy’s incredible nine-match winning streak comes to an end. The Kerala shuttler had won the US Open Grand Prix Gold last month which was the third international title of his career. That shot him up to No. 17 in the latest BWF World Rankings.

Earlier in the day, Sourabh Verma too lost his last-eight match. The seventh seed failed to take a game and slumped to a 19-21, 16-21 defeat to the World No. 88 Lee Cheuk Yiu.

Indians were the favourites to win

Both the Indians were facing lower-ranked opponents and were expected to make it through to the semi-finals. Prannoy worked hard to save a couple of match points in the second game and force a decider where he was the first to reach multiple match points at 20-17.

Despite holding a total of four match points, he could not close it out. The setback was very much reminiscent of the way he lost in the Indonesia Open Superseries Premier semi-finals in June where five match winning chances went begging.

Earlier this week, Ajay Jayaram and Parupalli Kashyap had both bowed out. Jayaram was the second seed and was primed for a good run. Instead, he suffered a shock 19-21, 13-21 first round defeat at the hands of the World No. 122 Chia Hung Lu.

Kashyap, who reached the US Open final, succumbed to Sourabh Verma in a thrilling pre-quarter-final showdown. This was the first time the two were meeting on the international circuit and the end result was a 21-18, 13-21, 21-16 win in favour of Verma.

Rising star Siril Verma too exited in the third round after a 13-21, 14-21 loss to the former junior world champion Lu.

The next important tournament for the Indian shuttlers is the BWF World Championships, beginning in Glasgow on August 21. Srikanth Kidambi, Ajay Jayaram, B Sai Praneeth and Sameer Verma lead India’s men’s singles challenge in that prestigious event.

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