B Sai Praneeth, PV Sindhu create history at World Championships
Praneeth becomes first Indian male shuttler in 36 years to win a World Championship medal after stunning Asian Games gold winner Jonatan Christie, while Sindhu beats Tai Tzu Ying to secure record fifth Worlds medal.
Basel (Switzerland): PV Sindhu secured her fifth World Championships medal following a stunning comeback while B Sai Praneeth became the first Indian male shuttler in 36 years to grab a podium in the prestigious event here yesterday.
On a day of double delight for India, Olympic silver medallist Sindhu staged a come-from-behind victory over Chinese Taipei's Tai Tzu Ying, before Praneeth ended an agonising wait with a straight-game win over Indonesia's Jonatan Christie.
Sindhu, who won back-to-back silver medals in the last two editions of the tournament to go with her two bronze, edged past World No. 2 and Asian Games gold medallist Tzu Ying 12-21, 23-21, 21-19 in a pulsating contest that lasted 71 minutes, inching closer to an elusive gold medal at the worlds. Sindhu also became the most successful women's singles player at the World Championships after assuring herself of what will be her fifth medal. She equalled China's Zhang Ning's feat.
World No. 19 Praneeth, who got the Arjuna Award this year, notched up a 24-22, 21-14 win over Asian Games gold medallist Christie in a 51-minute battle, joining Prakash Padukone in the medal list at the tournament.
Padukone was the first Indian to win a men's singles World Championship medal — a bronze — in 1983. In the women's singles, Sindhu showed tremendous grit after being blown away in the opening game, edging past her fancied rival, who still enjoys an upper hand (10-5) after 15 meetings.
'Had to be patient'
"In the first game, I had given her a huge lead and couldn't recover. I was prepared for her deception but my shots were going to mid-court. The second, was anybody's game and I kept fighting and won it. The third went the same way, she was leading but I had hope. At 18-18, I had to be patient. There were long rallies and I'm happy I win," Sindhu said after the win.
"We keep playing each other, so we know each other's game. I needed to be positive. It was a really good match and taking out such close matches gives a big boost to the confidence. I hope I can prepare well and come back stronger tomorrow."
Sindhu will take on the winner of the match between China's Chen Yu Fei and Denmark's Mia Blichfeldt on Saturday. "I don't know whom I will play. Chen Yufei is doing well in recent times and Mia beat Saina yesterday. Anything can happen. I just have to be there and focus on the match," Sindhu said.
Praneeth in top form
In the men's singles quarter-finals, Praneeth, who had won the Singapore Open in 2017 and finished runners-up at the Swiss Open earlier this year, came into the tournament with a 1-2 head-to-head against the Indonesian. But the past record didn't matter as the Indian came out attacking to stave off a stiff challenge from Jonatan in the opening game and then blew him away in the second to find his place in history. "It feels awesome. I still have matches, so I have to focus on that and be fitter for tomorrow. We can talk about what medal later on," laughed Praneeth after the match.
"Gopi sir told me not to attack and that changed the rhythm, so I think those inputs helped me a lot."
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