Indian shuttler B Sai Praneeth's horrendous campaign at the Tokyo Olympics 2021 came to an end with a second consecutive defeat on Wednesday.
Mark Caljouw of the Netherlands outclassed Sai Praneeth 21-14, 21-14 to top Group D. The in-form shuttler became the first Dutch player to reach men’s singles pre-quarterfinals in the Olympics.
Sai Praneeth’s maiden Olympics campaign ended without a win as he went down in straight games. Mark Caljouw has been doing well this season and was high on confidence after reaching the semi-finals at the All England Championship earlier this year.
World No. 15 Sai Praneeth, a 2019 World Championship bronze medalist, was already out of the competition after losing his opening encounter against Israel’s Misha Zilberman 17-21, 15-21 in 41 minutes.
The 13th seed Sai Praneeth failed to put up a good display and lost against Caljouw, who is ranked 29th in the world. It was the first match between these two players on the international circuit.
As Sai Praneeth exits the competition, here are three reasons why he lost:
#1 Lack of confidence made matters worse for Sai Praneeth
There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that Sai Praneeth lacked confidence in the Tokyo Olympics. He is usually not the type of player we saw in Tokyo.
The fact that Sai failed to win even a single game in both his matches proved his state of mind. He was completely down on his confidence and couldn’t play his natural game. A shocking defeat in the first match definitely played at the back of his mind.
#2 Sai Praneeth was expected to bounce back in the second match but failed to rise to the occasion
After the surprise defeat against Misha Zilberman of Israel in the opening encounter on Saturday, a much better display was expected from Sai Praneeth. However, the Indian failed to rise to the occasion and bowed out without a fight.
Sai Praneeth couldn’t match the pace of his opponent, who seemed to be playing at a different level. One would have expected Sai Praneeth to play for pride and sign off his Tokyo Olympics campaign on a winning note.
But the 28-year-old just couldn’t give his hundred percent.
#3 Agus Dwi Santoso was there but did Sai Praneeth miss regular coach Pullela Gopichand?
Sai Praneeth was accompanied by Agus Dwi Santoso in Tokyo. The Indonesian has been doing one-on-one coaching with Sai Praneeth for the last few months.
Since Agus traveled with Sai Praneeth, chief national coach Pullela Gopichand could not go as only one coach is allowed for the match due to the new guidelines in view of the pandemic. Many experts are now saying that if Gopichand had traveled to Tokyo, Sai Praneeth’s performance could have improved a lot.