India’s promising shuttler HS Prannoy couldn’t continue his winning form against Kazamasa Sakai of Japan as he lost a close match 21-17, 26-28, 18-21 in the semifinal of the Indonesia Super Series Premier badminton tournament on Saturday. Prannoy looked impressive in the start after winning the first game and tried to build pressure on Sakai in the second.
Prannoy took five match points but failed to capitalise on the given chances as Sakai clinched the second game 26-28 to level the match. The World No. 25 had previously defeated the Olympic silver medallist Lee Chong Wei and gold medallist Chen Long in his last two matches and looked in sublime touch.
Sakai had previously defeated Prannoy in 2013 in the same tournament. In the final, Prannoy looked in fine form with his effective strokes but could not sustain during long rallies, losing crucial points in the second and third games.
In the first game, Prannoy was leading by 11-6 and with his consistent strong smashes, he was able to create pressure on Kazamasa and took the game 21-17. Sakai made a comeback in the second game, leading Prannoy 5-1 but the game reached a point where both the players had an equal chance to grab it. Some breathtaking smashes from Prannoy helped him reach to 19-18 with two points required for a semifinal win.
Prannoy grabbed five match points, the first match point was saved by Sakai after which he produced a brilliant smash to grab a game point. After a magical display from both the opponents, the score reached to 27-26 and Sakai did not miss the chance this time, clinching the second set 28-26.
In the decider game, Sakai managed to take a 9-5 lead but soon Prannoy raised his level and narrowed the lead to 9-7. But after winning the second game, Sakai had already gained the momentum and looked much more mentally focused as he extended his lead to 15-11 and eventually went on to win the semifinal after grabbing the last game 21-18.