Star Indian shuttler H S Prannoy produced a gallant fight before going down narrowly to China’s Huang Yuxiang in the men singles quarterfinals of the USD 1000,000 All England Championship in Birmingham. In a nail-biting last eight match which swung too frequently, it was a miscued smash from the Indian that ended the gruelling contest 22-20 16-21 21-23 in favour of Huang after an hour and 17 minutes fight at the Arean Birmingham last night.
Locked 20-20 in the third set, Prannoy went for a smash with his opponent down on the floor but all he could do is send the shuttle to the net, a moment which will perhaps haunt him for sometime. “That was one shot that I really should have got in,” said Prannoy after the heart-breaking loss.
“There are matches where you really don’t know what to do to get that one big point. It’s really disappointing. One point does big things in your life. I’m really disappointed to have not made the semi-finals here. It’s one of my big dreams to do so one day,” he said. Up against an opponent who had beaten 2010 Commonwealth Games silver medallist Rajiv Ouseph and India’s Kidambi Srikanth in the last two days, Prannoy never let his guard down even for a moment.
His two losses against Huang too weighed in his mind as he played his heart out against the world no 42nd Chinese. Playing his first proper tournament after recovering from foot warts, Prannoy did well to reach the quarterfinals but he was left to do the catch up job right from the start in the contest as Huang jumped to a 12-7 lead at one stage. But the Indian reeled off 10 straight points to turn the tables and grab a 15-12 advantage. Huang, however, caught up at 16-16 and held the game point at 20-18. Prannoy stepped up and ensured he had the bragging rights as he pocketed the opening game 22-20.
The second game turned out to be an edge-of-the-seat thriller as nothing separated the two till the break when Huang had a slender 11-10 lead. However, the Chinese managed to take a three-point advantage at 15-12. Prannoy clawed back till 15-16 but Huang soon roared back into contest. In the decider, Prannoy surged to a massive 10-3 lead early on to conjure up hopes of a win but a gritty Huang slowly and steadily crafted his way back to catch up at 19-19. A battle of nerve ensued and it was the Chinese who had the last laugh in the end.
“I was not moving very well today. My preparations were not quite 100 per cent. I had a pretty mischief body after last night, so I couldn’t move as freely as I wanted to,” Prannoy said later. Prannoy was disappointed for not grabbing the opportunity with both hands after coming so far in the tournament.
“If you had asked me at the start of the tournament I would have said to get to the quarterfinals was a dream. Though now I am really disappointed because I had one of the best draws after the first round and I didn’t really take that opportunity,” he said. “It’s one of the best tournaments and hopefully next year I will have another chance to go further,” said Prannoy, who is training his guns on the Commonwealth Games next.