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World Badminton Championships 2017: Sai Praneeth credits his patience for the turnaround 

764   //    23 Aug 2017, 23:11 IST

Sai Praneeth

What’s the story?

15th seeded B Sai Praneeth staged a great escape on Day 3 at the 2017 BWF World Championships that had all badminton fans applauding his tenacity and stamina. The India No. 3 was trailing 12-18 in the decider against the 26th ranked Anthony Sinisuka Ginting of Indonesia from where he grabbed eight straight points before wrapping up the gruelling 14-21, 21-18, 21-19 second round win in 1 hour 15 minutes.

With Ginting starting the match at a furious pace and the shuttles acting slow, Sai was finding it difficult to counter the Indonesian for more than half of the match.

But once the World No. 19 understood that he needed to patiently prolong the rallies and test Ginting’s defence, he was able to pull off the Houdini act.

“I was really struggling to play as he was very fast and it was difficult to match him at that speed,” the 25-year-old told The Field after his match.

“But once he opened up the lead then he tried to play more safe and find angles and that allowed me to prolong the rallies. Once I came closer at 16-18, I think he started feeling the pressure,” Sai revealed.

In case you didn’t know...

A prodigious junior, Sai Praneeth had struggled to make the transition to the senior circuit until this year. He had a habit of building up big leads only to see his opponent coming back for the win in the end.

It all changed this year when Sai banked on his improved fitness and newfound confidence to win back-to-back titles at the Singapore Open Superseries and the Thailand Open Grand Prix Gold.

The heart of the matter

Sai had a disastrous start to the match, trailing 0-8 and looked clueless as Ginting kept on attacking relentlessly. But once he was able to figure out how to tackle his opponent, Sai settled into the match and found his rhythm, even though Ginting ran him close.

Sai admitted that it was more of luck in the decider when he roared back into contention.

The Gopichand Academy product also added that the confidence that he got from capturing the Singapore Open title was what helped him to come back from the brink.

What’s next?

The 15th seed will next face the winner of the second round contest between the sixth seed Chou Tien Chen of Chinese Taipei and Marc Zwiebler of Germany.

That match is scheduled on Thursday, August 24.

Author’s take

It is heartening to see that one of the most natural stroke players of Indian badminton, Sai Praneeth is believing in himself more and doing justice to his abundant talent. It is all due to the hard work done by Gopichand and the new Indonesian coach, Mulyo Handoyo.

The latter’s arrival has worked wonders and has brought about a renaissance in men’s singles, the results of which are for all to see. It would be heartwarming to see Sai inspiring himself like this and keep going at the prestigious world championships.

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A freelance journalist based in Kolkata who is a diehard Rafael Nadal fan. She is also extremely passionate about India’s progress in sports and hopes to throw light on India’s unsung sports heroes through her articles. When not screaming her lungs out in support of her favourite sports stars, she can be seen reading, watching movies or immersed in planning her next travel destination!
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