Thailand Open: Indian campaign over as Sai Praneeth bows out

B Sai Praneeth
B Sai Praneeth went down fighting. File photo: AFP/Richard A Brooks

Bangkok: Indian shuttler B Sai Praneeth's impressive run came to an end after he went down fighting to China's world No. 23 Li Shi Feng in the men's singles quarterfinals of the Thailand Open Super 300 badminton here on Friday.

Praneeth blew away a substantial lead of 15-10 in the opening game to lose 17-21, 23-21, 18-21. The defeat also brought curtains down on India's campaign.

On a comeback trail, Praneeth, who has been battling with fitness issues in a forgettable 2022, erased a 2-4 early deficit to jump to a healthy 11-7 advantage at the break.

The momentum shifted after the interval with the Chinese dominating the rallies to narrow the gap to 14-15. Li reeled off five straight points to move ahead and then pocketed the game comfortably.

In the second game, Praneeth fought back from 3-6 to move to 9-9 but then Li zoomed to 16-10. The Indian then slowly started making a comeback and roared back into contest when his rival went to net.

In the decider, Li jumped to a six-point lead at 18-12 after an initial battle. Praneeth again dug deep to bring it down to 18-19 before a backhand return to net handed two match points to the Chinese, who sealed it with a smash. 

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