The Indian lost the match in three grueling sets. After knocking out the Olympic Champion, Chen Long, in the semi-finals, Sai Praneeth went into this match with a lot of confidence, but could not maintain his momentum and ended up losing a really close match.
In the first game, both players kept pace with each other till 9-9 before Sai Praneeth took 6 successive points to take a 15-9 lead. The Indian kept moving ahead, but the Chinese won four points on the bounce, equalling the scores at 19-19. However, Sai held his nerve to win the first set 21-19.
The second game was an extremely close affair as well. Sai had chances to win the match when he was 13-10 ahead, but Shi played aggressive badminton and leveled the scores at 15-15 and then 18-18. The Chinese then took 3 points in succession to win the second set 21-18, forcing the match into a decider.
In the third game, Sai Praneeth struggled to keep up with the top seed as he ran out of steam. In the initial stages, he did manage to stay within striking distance, with both players tied at 4-4. The Chinese then took 3 points in succession to take a 7-4 lead. From that point onwards, Shi took command and eventually won the third set 21-12.
Sai has had quite a remarkable journey in the Swiss Open 2019, making his first finals appearance in about two years, and this will definitely hold him in good stead heading into the next few major tournaments.Published 17 Mar 2019, 22:54 IST