Coming into the 2019 Denmark Open, India’s B Sai Praneeth had never defeated badminton legend Lin Dan. In the two meetings before, the Indian hardly disturbed the Chinese great who wrapped up those matches without much trouble.
But at the Odense Sportspark in Denmark, the Indian was determined to test the double Olympic gold medallist. And he did that to perfection as Praneeth produced one of his finest shows to beat the Chinese great 21-14, 21-17.
Starting it right
Praneeth was on the money from the opening point as he managed to find enough space to land the shuttle despite Dan stretching to his limits in an attempt to complete his shots.
A 5-2 lead at the start rose to 11-8 at the mid-game interval and then was stretched to 16-10 as the five-time world champion found to difficult to read Praneeth’s game who kept his opponent chasing shadows with his quick and deceptive returns.
While Praneeth was on top of his game, things eased a bit for the Indian with Dan finding it difficult to land his shots with unforced errors creeping into his game as the tie progressed. World No. 12 Praneeth didn’t take long to punish the Chinese as he wrapped up the opening game.
A window back
While Dan found it difficult to find a footing in the opening game, he switched to a more defensive approach in the second as he kept pace with Praneeth in their initial exchanges.
Later, while the Chinese icon tried to force his way into the tie with some quick reflexes and his splendid cross-court smashes, Praneeth was watchful as he didn’t let Dan race ahead and eked out an 11-9 lead at the mid-game interval.
Post the break, Dan saw his game take a turn for the worse as nothing seemed to go his way. His returns landed in Praneeth’s hitting zone, something that the Indian obliged to without fail, and his judgement let him down as he failed to read the line well, handing his opponent easy points.
Dan was comparatively slow on the court and that, coupled with his lack of initiative, pulled the curtains down on his campaign in Denmark as Praneeth registered a memorable victory on the opening day of the competition.
Next, Praneeth will take on the winner between World No. 1 Kento Momota of Japan and Vincent Wong Wing Ki of Hong Kong.
Sindhu digs deep
Earlier, India’s star shuttler PV Sindhu fought through a tough opening round to make progress further at the Odense Sportspark.
The Indian was pushed to the distance by Indonesia’s Gregoria Tunjung before she could register a 22-20, 21-18 in the first round of the competition.
Enjoying a 5-0 head-to-head record against the Indonesian, Sindhu was expected to dominate the tie. But the manner in which the two started, there was barely anything to choose between them.
In what was a cagey opening game Sindhu stayed on top with an 11-9 lead at the mid-game interval. Though Tunjung tried to get back and managed a 16-13 lead, Sindhu was soon on top of her game as she rallied to take the opener 22-20.
Sindhu started the second game in a familiar fashion and was soon ahead in the tie, but World No. 16 Tunjung once again showed her quality as she took six points on the bounce to race to a 12-9 lead before squandering the advantage to the reigning world champion who then wrapped up the tie without much fuss.
Back in the groove
Having struggled to find their rhythm ever since breaking into the top-10 of the BWF Rankings post their Thailand Open win, the Indian men’s doubles duo of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty looked in control of their tie, notching up a 24-22, 21-11 win over Kim Gi-Jung and Lee Yong Dae of South Korea in their opener.
Meanwhile, Parupalli Kashyap put up a below-par show to bow out of the competition after his straight-games loss to Sitthikom Thammasin of Thailand with Sourabh Verma joining him after his loss to the Netherlands’ Mark Caljouw.