PV Sindhu. File.

PV Sindhu. File.
| Photo Credit: PTI

A valiant HS Prannoy rallied his way to a morale-boosting three-game win over China’s Lu Guang Zu as he and double Olympic medallist PV Sindhu progressed to the second round of the Badminton Asia Championships here on Wednesday.

World No. 9 Prannoy showed exemplary mental fortitude as he battled for 90 minutes before prevailing 17-21 23-21 23-21 over Lu, ranked 16th, to set up a second-round clash with Chinese Taipei’s Lin Chun-Yi.

Sindhu, who is desperately seeking to rediscover her form ahead of the Paris Olympics, too survived some tense moments before overcoming world number 33 Goh Jin Wei from Malaysia 18-21 21-14 21-19 in a tough opening round match.

Sindhu, who had lost to Jin Wei the last time they meet in Sudirman Cup but has a overall 4-1 record against her opponent, almost blew away a five-point advantage in the decider before managing to come up trumps. Next up for Sindhu is China’s Han Yue, against whom the Indian has a flawless 5-0 record.

It was, however, a difficult day for Olympic-bound Lakshya Sen, who lost 19-21 15-21 to local favourite and top seed Shi Yu Qi, and Kidambi Srikanth, who suffered a 14-21 13-21 loss against Indonesia’s Anthony Ginting in the opening round.

Talented Priyanshu Rajawat also was no match for eight-seeded Lee Zii Jia of Malaysia, losing 9-21 13-21 in 39 minutes.

MR Arjun and Dhruv Kapila too was left heartbroken after losing 21-23 21-19 24-26 against seventh seeded Chinese pair of Liu Yu Chen and Ou Xuan Yi.

Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand too went down 2-21 11-21 to fourth seeded Liu Sheng Shu and Tan Ning in women’s doubles opener to dash their faint Paris Olympics qualification hopes.

Prannoy vs Lu

It was the fourth battle between Prannoy and Lu with the Chinese prevailing in all three meetings so far.

Prannoy, 31, who will be chasing Olympic glory in Paris, has been troubled by gut issues this season. He made first-round exits in all BWF events apart from India Open where he reached the semifinals.

Things were not looking up here either when he conceded the opening game and then gave up a 6-1 advantage in the second game. But a determined Prannoy found a way to wrest back control, taking a four-game point advantage after breaking off at 16-16.

The Indian, however, squandered it all as Lu held a match point at 21-20 but just in time Prannoy got back his bearing and reeled off the required three points to roar back into the contest.

The decider was another rollercoaster ride as Prannoy again fell 3-10 behind but he once again clawed back to take a 13-12 lead. With the clock racing over the 70 minutes mark, it became a battle of mind and battered bodies.

Lu managed to again grab match points at 20-19 and 21-20 but Prannoy again unleashed two powerful smashes and then punched the air when the Chinese dumped one at the net.

Sindhu vs Jin Wei

The two were neck-and-neck at the start before Sindhu committed three judgement errors at the backline and then sprayed one wide as Jin Wei took a slender 11-9 lead at the break.

Sindhu played some fine cross-court returns and also looked to add variation from the back but she committed too many unforced errors. A low return from front court went wide to hand five game points to Jin Wei.

Sindhu sent one to the corner and then unleashed an over-the-head drop to stay afloat before floating one out.

The Indian led 4-1 in second game but unforced errors again came back to haunt her as Jin Wei made it 5-5. Sindhu, however, managed to take a two-point cushion at the interval.

It became 13-13 but Sindhu soon came out with a flurry of smashes to grab six game points and sealed it with a forehand hand drive.

In the decider, Sindhu gave away a 1-5 lead at the start but she slowly started finding her mark again and moved to 5-7. A net error from Sindhu gave two-point cushion to the Malaysian at the interval but the Indian clawed back from 10-13 down with three points.

Then Indian took the lead when Jin Wei sent a cross-court return wide. Errors crept in the Malaysian’s game as she found the net or sprayed wide, allowing Sindhu to move to 17-14.

A couple of brutal smash put Sindhu just two points away as she soon pocketed five match points. Just then, Jin Wei found the line twice with her returns and Sindhu too sprayed into the net as four points evaporated. But then Jin Wei sent her backhand drive to the net after another rally, leaving Sindhu relieved.

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