India men’s singles claim ends at Malaysia Masters
India's HS Prannoy couldn’t continue his giant-killing form at the Malaysia Masters Super 500 event in the second round after world number one Kento Momota showed him the door with a 21-14, 21-16 win following a gruelling clash that lasted 45 minutes.
The other remaining men’s singles shuttler, Sameer Verma, also endured a similar fate after he let the match out of his grip against local talent Lee Zii Jia to go down 19-21, 20-22.
HS Prannoy makes his exit valiantly
Facing Kento Momota, who has been in imperious form over the last year, meant HS Prannoy would be the second favourite in this tie. The two had faced each other six times on previous occasions with the Indian losing every time.
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HS Prannoy started on a positive note, though, leading 4-1 early on before the Japanese star notched up his game. Levelling things at 5-5, Momota went on to lead 11-8 at the break.
The 27-year-old Delhi-native did well to reduce the deficit to 12-13 at one time, but the Indian could win only two more points thereafter before Momota wrapped things up at 21-14 to win the first game.
The Indian was expected to start stronger after trailing 0-1 in the first game and he did exactly that by getting a strong 6-0 lead early on. However, it took Momota no time to get back to winning ways as he reduced the deficit and levelled proceedings at 9-9.
HS Prannoy did well to edge Momota 11-9 at the break but that wasn’t enough.
The demanding game saw the competitors sharing the spoils numerous times until 16-16, following which Momota won five points on the trot to win the game 21-16 and seal the match.
Sameer Verma cuts it close
Sameer Verma had an ably matched opponent in Lee Zii Jia in his second round draw and the shuttlers kept going at each other from the word go. Though the Indian led 11-8 at the break in the first game, Jia never let the Malaysian run away with it and equalled the points at 19-19.
From thereon, it was a matter of determination and Jia came out on top by getting the final two points and, consequently, the game 21-19.
Sameer Verma was expected to pull up his socks in the second game but it took a familiar course. After the Indian took early charge of the proceedings to lead 11-7 at the break, Jia was yet again allowed to find his way back into the game.
Eventually, after levelling proceedings at 20-20, the Malaysian won two consecutive points to seal the match 21-19, 22-20.