His dream run ending with a World Championship bronze, India’s ace men’s singles shuttler B Sai Praneeth on Saturday described the feat as one of the best of his international career.
The 27-year-old from Hyderabad, who was conferred with the Arjuna Award this year, lost 13-21 8-21 to defending champion and world no. 1 Kento Momota of Japan in a lop-sided semifinal to settle for bronze.
“This was one of my best tournaments that I ever had in my career. There are lots of learning and positives to take. I think the recent performances have been good,” Praneeth told reporters.
It was a rare achievement for Praneeth, who became the first Indian male shuttler in 36 years to win a medal in the prestigious tournament.
Prakash Padukone was the first to win a men’s singles World Championships medal — a bronze — in the 1983 edition.
Praneeth, who had finished runners-up at Swiss Open early this year, admitted he just couldn’t find the wherewithal to put pressure on Momota during the semifinal contest.
“Momota was varying the strokes. I was pushing the pace but I wasn’t getting the result. I was getting tired. I didn’t know what to do. I was blank. I was attacking but a few strokes went out,” he said.
“I couldn’t think anything except hitting the strokes and he was taking all the shots and I was hitting the net too often.”
The world no. 19 Indian lavished praise on the world no.1 Japanese, terming him a “complete player”.
“He has got an all-round game and he can vary his game according to the opponent and that is a big plus point,” said Praneeth, the 2017 Singapore Open champion.
“If you see, Momota is a completely different player. You can’t go blindly and play him. You have to be fit and keep him in play and change the strategy all the time. The main thing is you have to be mentally fit.
“He has a lot of patience and variation. He can read his opponent. He has something different from others which is making everything tough to beat him. But we will figure it out and yeah, someday I will definitely beat him.”
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