Sai Praneeth became the first Indian men’s singles player in 36 years to medal at the World Championships when he beat Jonatan Christie today to make it a great day for India. With compatriot Pusarla V Sindhu having won her women’s singles quarterfinal a short while earlier, India couldn’t have asked for a better session of play at the TOTAL BWF World Championships 2019.
It is the first time that India will have a medal in both singles categories at the same World Championships.
Praneeth’s feat was a hat tip to Prakash Padukone who won men’s singles bronze at Copenhagen in 1983. The first game was neck-and-neck, with Praneeth holding marginal leads, only for Christie to pull level. But once the Indian grabbed the game at 24-22, the Indonesian’s challenge fell apart. Praneeth shot ahead at 11-3 and 15-8, but had to endure some anxious moments with Christie looming in his rearview mirror. He kept his nerve to close it out 24-22 21-14.
“It feels awesome to be a medallist. I was attacking a lot in the first game, and I was under pressure and that made me tired, but then my coach told me to let him attack and that’s what changed the rhythm. It’s a big moment for me and I hope it’s a turning point in my career,” said Praneeth.
Pusarla’s was a much harder-fought victory over Tai Tzu Ying. The Chinese Taipei second seed’s eclectic mix of strokes had Pusarla far behind in the opening game. The Indian fought back doggedly, and her stubborn retrieving game kept the pressure on Tai. The Indian extracted the final two errors required to seal her place in the semifinals at 12-21 23-21 21-19 in 71 minutes.
“It was anybody’s game in the second and third. I had hope that anything could happen. I had to be patient, just had to keep the shuttle in play. I’m really very happy about this win. We know each other’s game, it’s just about playing well on the day. It was a good match and winning this will give me confidence for the semifinals,” said Pusarla.