Indian badminton ace B. Sai Praneeth squandered a one-game lead to go down fighting to the top seed and World No. 2 Shi Yuqi in the final of the $150,000 Yonex Swiss Open 2019 at Basel, Switzerland on Sunday. The 22nd ranked Indian battled for 68 minutes before losing 21-19, 18-21, 12-21.
This was Sai’s first final in two years on the BWF circuit since his run to the title at the Thailand Open in June of 2017.
Sai had come to the final riding on two upset wins this week. In the second round, he knocked out the eighth seed and defending champion Sameer Verma while in the semi-finals he got the better of the reigning Olympic champion Chen Long.
He carried that form into the final as well and made a good start against the 2018 BWF World Tour Finals winner, racing ahead to 15-9 in the first game. The Chinese brought forth his impressive fighting qualities to draw level before the Indian eked out the opener 21-19 in a tense ending.
The second game too turned out to be a hard-fought affair and even there the 2017 Singapore Open champion enjoyed a lead of 13-10. However, the World No. 2 was back in contention soon after and the competitive game remained on par till 18-18, following which Shi Yuqi pocketed it 21-18.
Having fought his way back into the match, the Chinese was too hot to handle for Sai in the decider where he did not face much resistance from the Indian.
After winning a round at the All England Open last week and four matches at the Swiss Open this week, Sai has gained in confidence ahead of the India Open to be held in New Delhi from March 26. His ranking is also set to rise further and the former World No. 12 is looking to get back into the top 20 once again.Published 18 Mar 2019, 00:25 IST